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THE

CHRISTIAN OBSERVER.

No. 306.]

JUNE, 1827. [No. 6. Vol. XXVII.

RELIGIOUS COMMUNICATIONS.

REPLY TO B. W. ON CERTAIN DOCTRINES IN M. MALAN'S CONVENTICLE OF ROLLE.

WE had intended to conclude the remarks of our correspondents, on B. W.'s paper, with those contained in our last Number; but as the discussion involves some points of great moment, and as our correspondents and readers seem to be much interested in its prosecution, we introduce the following paper, with which we must terminate the investigation; unless B. W. should wish to reply to the friends who have commented on his remarks. We have been obliged to shorten J. A. H.'s paper, omitting chiefly the parts which had been anticipated by other correspon dents, or which appeared to us not materially relevant to the exact points under discussion, such as his defence of the doctrine of "the final perseverance of the saints."

Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer. Even those who, disapproved of the sentiments of your correspondent B. W. must be gratified by his expressions of kindness towards M. Malan, on one of whose publications (the Conventicle of Rolle) he has animadverted. I trust it is not inconsistent with the plan of your work to admit the following strictures on his criticism, as the subjects treated of are of fundamental importance.-B. W. complains of a defect of definition throughout M. Malan's book, and that there is no distinct statement of the nature of faith. I can hardly suppose, however, that any CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 306.

person who reads "the Conventicle of Rolle" will be at a loss to ascertain what M. Malan means by faith. It will also appear in the course of the following remarks, that B. W.'s objections are founded, statement, but on the very different not on the obscurity of M. Malan's view which he himself takes of the nature of faith.

B. W. asserts that the proposition, no works in order to salvation, is contrary to Scripture. "It ought," he says, " to be, no works in order to justification.". The Apostle, howthrough faith, not of works, lest any ever, says," By grace are ye saved man should boast." (Eph. ii. 8, 9.) Again, "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus iii. 5, 7.) These passages, to which it would be easy to add many others, state the proposition objected to by B. W.

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no works in order to salvation," as strongly as M. Malan has done; and the latter passage proves that in the word of God, those who are justified are saved: "whom he justified, them he also glorified." (Rom. viii. 30.) "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. viii. 1.) If so, doubtless they are saved."

The passages adduced by B. W. in support of his position, that the assertion, no works in order to

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salvation is incorrect, are first, "Work out your own salvation." (Phil. ii. 12.) B. W. appears to overlook the different verses in which the term salvation is employed in the word of God. In one sense, the salvation of the believer is not complete till he is perfectly conformed to Christ. (1 John iii. 2.) This is the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, towards which he is to press. Immediately connected with the first passage above referred to, in which believers are said to be saved by grace, through faith, the Apostle proceeds, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Eph. ii. 10.) Here believers are spoken of as having obtained salvation; and good works, so far from being the cause of this salvation, are described as its effects, or perhaps more properly as the salvation itself. It is by faith, by union with Christ, by being grafted into the true vine, that we bring forth fruit. "Either," says Christ, "make the tree good, and his fruit good, or make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt, for the tree is known by his fruit." (Matt. xii. 33.) But to endeavour to obtain salvation by good works, is to begin with the fruit, that, by improving its quality, we may change the nature of the tree.

The salvation of Christ is a deliverance from the power of sin, and from the bondage of satan, in which all mankind are by nature enthralled. (Isa. Ixi, 1. 3.) Our Lord is called Jesus (Saviour), because he saves his people from their sins. (Matt. i. 21.) He blesses them in turning away every one of them from their iniquities. (Acts iii. 26.) The moment we are vitally united to Christ we are saved; the new creation is begun, which shall issue in our complete restoration to the image of God. "I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness." (Psal. xvii. 15.)

The Apostle addresses the Philippians with the utmost affection and confidence. They had given much evidence of their faith and love; and he was confident that he who had begun a good work in them would perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (ch. i. 6.) Yet he exhorted them to work out their own salvation; and he enforces the exhortation by his own example. A second passage referred to by B. W. is, "We labour, whether present or absent, to be accepted of him." (2 Cor. v. 9.) In the preceding context, the Apostle had expressed his confidence of a joyful resurrection (2 Cor. iv. 14), and of a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (v. 17.) He describes himself and his fellow-Christians as being always confident, and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord; and he adds, "Wherefore we labour, that whether present or absent we may be accepted of him." Is this the language of a man who stood in doubt of his acceptance? Surely not. It is the language of one who, being "accepted in the beloved" (Eph. i. 6), was looking and longing for the full enjoyment of the presence of Christ. But the greater his confidence the more fervent was his love, and hence his anxiety to please God. The words rendered accepted, signify to be well pleasing. They are thus rendered ch. iv. 18, also Heb. xiii. 21, and in various other passages. The verb is rendered please, Heb. xi. 5 and 6, and xiii. 16. In other passages it is rendered acceptable, (Rom. iv. 1; Eph. v. 10); and it is never rendered accepted except in this place. Having spoken of his confidence in God, both as to this life and that which is to come, the Apostle affirms that the sense of his unspeakable obligations to Christ led him to labour to do what was pleasing in his sight. A few verses afterwards he expresses the same sentiment, when he tells us that the love of Christ, in laying down his

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life for believers, constrained them to live not to themselves, but to him who died for them, and rose again. (verses 14, 15.)

Here we are taught the nature of Christian obedience: love and good works are enforced on the disciples of Christ, from the consideration of the love of God to wards them. "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage unto fear, but the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Rom. viii. 15.) "Because ye are sons God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." (Gal. iv. 6, 7.) And in opposition to those who taught them to blend their obedience with the faith of Christ, the Apostle exhorts them to "stand fast in the glorious liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free; and not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage." (Gal. v. 1.)

The next passage referred to is, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Does B. W. really consider this passage as pointing out the way of salvation? The Apostle Paul speaks of some who," being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, had not submitted to the righteousness of God." (Rom. x. 3.) Can we for a moment suppose, that our Lord recommended this course to the person to whom he said, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments?" A young ruler, apparently very amiable, and probably very exemplary in his conduct, inquired" what he should do" that he might have eternal life. Our Lord immediately referred to the words of Moses, "The man that doeth these things shall live in them" (Rom. x. 5); and when the ruler professed that he had all along obeyed the law, our Lord commanded him 866 to sell all he had, and to give to the poor," and

to "come and follow him." On this narrative I observe, 1st, That Christ, on this, as on many other occasions, reasoned, with the person whom he addressed on his own principles. The ruler wished to obtain eternal life by doing something, and our Lord referred him to the holy and unalterable law of God which was given, that every mouth might be stopped, and that all the world might become guilty before God (Rom. iii. 19). 2dly, When the ruler shewed such ignorance as to affirin, that he had obeyed the law of God from his youth, Christ told him to sell all he had and give to the poor, and that he should have treasure in heaven, and to come and follow him. This was well calculated to make him acquainted with his own character. He had applied to Jesus as a teacher come from God: he had intimated that he was ready to do any thing to obtain eternal life; but by our Lord's reply the conviction was forced on his mind that, after all, he was more anxious about this world than the next, and he went away sorrowful. The circumstances of the case account for our Lord's language. When the jailor at Philippi inquired, “What shall I do to be saved?" does the Apostle reply, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments?" Does our Lord thus instruct the Jews, when they asked, "What shall we do that we might work the works of God?" "This," said Jesus, "is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." (John vi. 28.) The way of salvation is most plainly and explicitly taught in the Scriptures. "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth" (Rom. x. 4); and so far from being directed to the law for salvation, we are expressly told, that, " as many as are of the works of the law (looking to it for salvation), are under the curse." (Gal. iii. 10.)

Another passage referred to by B. W. is Matt, vii. 21. "Not every

one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father in heaven." This is one of the very numerous declarations of the Word of God which teaches us the vanity of a profession of religion without the power of godliness; the folly of saying I have faith, while we have not works; but it contains not the shadow of an argument against the proposition, "No works in order to salvation." B. W. next objects to what he considers the fallacy of M, Malan's exhibition of faith, and says, "Faith in God must have respect to all which God declares and commands. Faith believes the promise, obeys the precept, and receives comfort from both." Here faith and works are blended together in a manner which appears to me utterly unscriptural. The writer, I think, has fallen precisely into the error so strongly condemned in the Epistle to the Galatians. The Galatians had not renounced Christ; they still professed the Gospel; but certain men had taught them, that "except they were circumcised after the manner of Moses, they could not be saved." The Apostle meets this by a counter-statement. "Behold I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." (Gal. v. 2. 5.) The Galatians had no idea of being saved, except by Christ. They admitted that they could be justified only by faith in him; but their new teachers had informed them, that faith in God must have respect to all which God declares and commands;" and that they must not rest in the promise alone. The Apostle refutes this error. He shews, that "if righteousness come by the law, Christ is dead in vain."

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(ch. ii. 21.) He takes the law in its more extensive sense, as including all the precepts for the regulation of our conduct, and he says,

The law is not of faith; but the man that doeth these things shall live in them." (ch. iii. 12.) It is a matter of no consequence, whether the commandment which we endeavour to incorporate with the faith of Christ, be circumcision, or the love of God and our neighbour: in either case, by having recourse to our own obedience, we make ourselves debtors to do the whole law, we frustrate the grace of God, and represent Christ as dead in vain. (chap. ii. 21.) The Apostle teaches us that "the Scripture hath concluded (shut up, as the word is thus rendered in the next verse,) all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe" (chap. iii. 22).

B. W. may condemn M. Malan for excluding obedience to the precept from his exhibition of faith; but the promise and the precept are always carefully distinguished in the word of God. St. Paul, having said there was a remnant according to the election of grace, adds,-" and if of grace it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace; but if it be of works it is no more of grace, otherwise work is no more work." (Rom. xi. 16.).

B. W. tells us that the promise was (Gen. xv. 1), I am thy shield, and (5.) So shall thy seed be: the command was, Walk before me and be thou perfect (Gen. xvii. 1, 7, &c.); and he observes, that "faith believes the promise and obeys the precept, and receives comfort from both." The teachers in Galatia, whom the Apostle opposes, used exactly the same language, only substituting another commandment recorded in the very same chapter. "Every manchild among you shall be circumcised" (Gen. xvii. 10); and they were perfectly satisfied when they had persuaded the Galatians that faith believes the promise and obeys the precept, and that, by their believing

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and obeying, like Abraham they were justified by faith. But the Apostle denounces thus of "another Gospel" (Gal. i. 6): he affirms that, by adding circumcision to the faith of Jesus, they renounced salvation by Christ, were seeking justification by works, and consequently were under the curse pronounced on him who offends in one point. (Gal. iii. 10.)*

B. W. goes on to object to faith being represented as consisting "in believing and applying the promises as if they were spoken of God absolutely, personally, and individually to ourselves." The subsequent part of the paragraph, in which he informs us how he comes to be assured that the general promise "refers to me, and that I am a child of God and an heir of glory," appears to me calculated to lead men to trust in their faith, repentance, love, and obedience, instead of trusting in Christ; to lead the bold to a presumptuous confidence in the safety of their state, and the timid to a constant alternation of hopes, of fears very distressing to themselves, and tending much to prevent their progress in holiness, and their adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour.

The Gospel is an exhibition of Christ as mighty to save, and of his death as a full atonement for our sins. The proclamations, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world,-Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely,-Him that cometh unto me 1 will in no wise cast out," afford à sure and solid foundation for the hope and confidence of every one who hears the Gospel, even the most guilty. No exception is made in the proclamation;

and therefore each individual who hears it, is fully warranted in applying it to himself. We are

Our limits obliging us to abridge I. A. H's paper, we have omitted what follows to prove the doctrine of justifica tion by faith only, as B. W. maintains that doctrine as strenuously as I. A. H.

invited to believe that God hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. v. 21), and to receive Christ as made of God to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. (1 Cor. i. 3.)

Let us suppose a number of rebels who had taken up arms against their sovereign. A general proclamation of pardon and amnesty is published. All are invited to return to their allegiance, with the assurance that whoever lays down his arms and quits the rebel ranks shall be received into favour. Is not every individual rebel warranted to apply the proclamation to himself? Is not his doing so the only possible way in which he can receive the benefit of the amnesty? What else could induce him to submit? It is precisely the same with the procla mation of pardon in the Gospel; none can receive benefit from it without applying it to himself, which from its general nature he is fully warranted to do.

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"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. xi. 1.) It apprehends the truth of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fulness of his atonement, and the prevalence of his intercession; and thus Christ is received and dwells in the heart (Eph. iii. 17), as a Saviour exactly suited to our circumstances. Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. His blood cleanseth us from all sin; and the believing sinner finds rest in the Saviour.

When the three thousand "gladly received the word " (Acts ii. 41),did not their joy arise from believing and applying the promise of salva tion? So when the jailor inquired, "What shall I do to be saved?" He was told, "Believe in the, Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house; and they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his

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