תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

of God in its punishment. Let him hear the Most High saying, "Awake, O sword, against the man who is my fellow."

And let him thence learn, how much sin is the object of divine detestation.

Hath a believer then a firm persuation of all these truths ?

Are they the frequent theme of his meditations? And must they not necessarily fill him with an abhorence of sin, inflame him with a hatred of it, and excite in bim a self-loathing on its account?

Thus it is said in the prophetic writings, “They shall look on 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." And must not a repetition of the same views still strengthen the impression; so that, as the apostle Paul tells us of himself, “the world will be crucified unto him, and he unto the world.”

I am sensible that these things will have no such efsect upon the enemies of the gospel who disbelieve them, or upon those Christians, if they deserve the name, who disguise, explain away, or give up the satistaction of Christ; or even those who have a strong tincture of a legal spirit, and are for contributing somewhat toward their acceptance with God, by their own mcrit and defective obedience. Such cannot relish these sentiments, and therefore it may seem improper, in reasoning against enemies, to bring them at all in view. But let it be remembered, that however little many believe such things, they may yet preceive, if they will attend to it, their natural operation upon those who do believe them. And let any modern adept in the science of morals show;. in his account of the foundation of morality and the nature of obligation, any thing that hath a force or influence equal to this : or will the nominal self-righteous Christian, who thinks Christ only made up some little wants which he finds in himself, or that his death had only some general expedien.. cy in it, ever be equally tender in his practice with

him, who sees so much of the purity of the law of God, and his detestation of sin, as to esteem all his own righteousnesses but as filthy rags, and founds his hope of acceptance wholly upon the perfect righteousness of his Redeemer ?

In the third place, He who expects justification only through the imputed righteousness of Christ, has the most awful views of the danger of sin. He not only sees the obligation and purity of the law, but the severity of its sanction. It is a fear of wrath from the avenger of blood, that persuades him to fly to the city of refuge. And if we compare the sentiments of others with his, either the generality of a careless and blinded world, or those who act upon contrary principles and a different system from that which we are now defending, we shall find, that not one of them hath such apprehensions of the wrath and vengeance of God, due on the account of sin, as the convinced sinner who flies to the propitiation of Christ for deliverance and

rescue.

I am very sensible that many readers will be ready to challenge this argument as pressed into the service, and wholly improper upon my scheme. They will suppose that every believer, in consequence of his faith in Christ, is screened from the penalty of the law, and sheltered from the stroke of divine justice: he is therefore no more under this fear; and its being no more a motive of action in the future part of his conduct, is the very ground of the objection I am attempting to remove. This is no doubt plausible ; but let it be remembered in what way it is that believers are freed from their apprehensions of the wrath of God,—it is by their acceptance of his mercy through faith in Christ. Before the application of this remedy, they saw themselves the children of wrath and heirs of hell; and they still believe that every sin deserves the wrath of God, both in this life and that which is to

Will they therefore re-incur the danger from

come.

which they have so lately escaped, and of which they had so terrible a view ? Will they do so voluntarily, even although they know the remedy to be still at hand, still ready to be applied, and certainly effectual ? Suppose any person had been upon the very point of perishing in a violent and rapid stream, and saved when his strength was well nigh exhausted, by the happy intervention of a tender-hearted passenger, would he voluntarily plunge himself again into the flood, even although he knew his deliverer were standing by, ready for his relief? The supposition is quite unnatural; and it is equally so to imagine, that one saved from divine wrath will immediately repeat the provocation, even whilst he trembles at the thoughts of the misery of that state from which he had been so lately delivered.

Let us only consider the strong sense which a believer usually shows of the danger of others in an unconverted state, from a persuasion of their being under the wrath of God. He warns them, entreats them, pities them, and prays for them, He would not exchange with any one of them, a prison for a palace, or a scaffold for a throne. How then should he be supposed to follow them in their practice, and thereby to return to their state?

But perhaps here again it will be urged, that this is improper; because, according to the principles of the assertors of imputed righteousness, a believer being once in a justified state cannot fall from grace, and therefore his sins do not deserve wrath ;, and he himself must have, from this persuasion, a strong confidence that, be they what they will, they cannot have such an effect: and accordingly some have expressly affirmed, that the future sins of the elect are forgiven, as well as their past, at their conversion ; nay, some, that they are justified from all eternity, that God doth not see sin in a believer, that his afflictions are not punishments, and other things of the like nature. Now,

though I must confess I look upon these expressions, and many more to be found in certain, writers, whatever glosses they may put upon them, as unguarded and anti-scriptural, yet not to enter into the controversy at all, I suppose it will be acknowledged by all without exception, that a believer's security, and the impossibility of his falling from grace, is a security of not sinning, that is, of not being under the dominion of sin, as much as, or rather in order to his security, of deliverance from the wrath of God. His pardon is sure, but this security is only hypothetical, because his faith and holiness are seecured by the promise of God; so that ; to suppose a person to sin without restraint, by means of this persuasion, that his salvation is secured by his first acceptance of Christ, is a supposition self-contradictory. However strongly any man may assert that a believer's salvation is secure, he will not scruple at the same time to acknowledge, that if such believer should sin wilfully and habitually, and continue to do so, he would be damned; but he will deny that

any such case ever did, or eyer can possibly happen.*

The objection must surely appear strongest upon the principles of those who make the nature of faith to consist in a belief that Christ died for themselves in particular, or of their own personal interest. in him, and the pardon and life which he hath purchased, making assurance essential to its daily exercise. Yet even these will not deny, that their faith is not always

* Indeed there can be nothing more unfait, than to take one part of a man's belief, and thence argue against another part, upon which the first is expressly founded. If I should say, I' am confident I shall never be drowned in a certain river, because I am résolved never to cross it at all, would it not be absurd to reason thusHere is a man who hath a persuasion he will never be drowned in this river, therefore he will be surely very headstrong and fool-hardy in fording it when it overflows its banks, which is contrary to the very foundation of my security.

equally strong, and that their assurance is sometimes interrupted with doubts and fears. Now, what is the cause of these doubts and this uncertainty ? Is it not always sin, more directly or by consequence ? So that sin renders their faith doubtful, which is the very same thing with putting them in fear concerning their future state. Indeed it is not more sure that our Redeemer invites all weary, heavy-laden sinners to come unto him that they may find rest, than it is that the unrighteouss shall not inherit the kingdom of God. So that every intance of voluntary sin must throw back the believer (at least as to his own sentiments) into bis former state, till he be again restored by faith and repentance. From this

. I think it evidently appears, that the motive of the danger of sin is not weakened, but hath its full force upon those who expect jastification by the imputed righteousness of Christ. And if it is not weakened, it must be strengthened by this persuasion, since, as I have shown above, none have so deep a sense of the obligation of the law, and the evil of sin, and by consequence, none can have so great a fear of its awful sanction. That this is agreeable to Scripture might be shown at a great length, where the putting their right to the favour of God and eternal life more and more beyond all doubt and question, is recommended to believers as an object of their care and diligence. Thus says the apostle to the Hebrews, 66 And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence, to the full assurance of hope unto the end." And the apostle Peter, after a long enumeration of the graces of the Christian life says,

66 Where: fore rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” Nay the fear of wrath and of tinally perishing, is represented by the apostle Paul himself, as one view at least, which has bituatly influenced his own corduct: " But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection ; lest that

« הקודםהמשך »