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Serm. at that time, when the gross of the naVI. tion were ripening themselves for destrucration by their obstinate unbelief and impeni
tency, there was a remnant, to whom the peculiar privileges of God's people were appropriated : And they are characterized by the election of grace, as in opposition to works : - For it is said, ver. 6. if by grace, then it is no more of works : Otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace : Otherwise work is no more work. The meaning seems to be plainly this. There are but two ways by which men can be rendered acceptable to God; either by an exact fufilling of his law, whereby they are intitled to the reward as a debt, which was the proud claim of the Jews; or by the free gift of pardon upon sincere repentance and amendment, which is the gracious tenor of the christian cove
Between those two, men were at that time divided in their hopes, and the methods they propofed for obtaining the favour of God; and they were utterly inconfiftent: So that when some endeavoured to compound them, by joining with the faith of Christ and the obedience of the Gospel, the necessary observance of the ceremonial law,
the apostle pronounces such an attempt al-Serm.
This notion of grace, so much insisted on
Where is boasting then? it is excluded. By what law ? of works? nay; but by the law of faith. But we are not to understand all this, as if the gospel were a mere unconditionate declaration of pardon and offer of salvation : On the contrary, it establishes the necessary and perpetual obligation of the moral law, and is designed to rescue men from the dominion of fin: As the apostle shows, Rom. vi. 14. Sin shall not have dominion over you :
ye are not under the law, but under grace. At the same time, he teaches, that it is the grofseft abuse of the gospel grace to imagine, that because we are under it, we may take a liberty to
SERM.sin: For, as the Jews by circumcision were VI. bound to the observance of the whole law,
which required a perfect unsinning conformity to it, as the condition of acceptance, according to the tenor of that covenant, do this and live ; but that law, giving the knowledge of fin, could neither deliver men from the
power, nor the punishment of it: So, by being initiated into christianity, we become bound to obedience, in the merciful sense, which the gospel indispensably requires, and accepts : That is, to sincerity, not finless perfection. But if we fin wilfully, and obstinately, under grace, or under the christian profession ; so far from being thoroughly justified, we are rendered obnoxious to inevitable condemnation : For says the apostle at the 23d ver. the wages of hn is death.
Şecondly, let us confider the meaning of justification by faith without the law. That it is the doctrine of St. Paul cannot be doubted. It is the result of a long discourse on the general depravity of men, rendering them liable to the wrath of God, and the divine mercy in setting forth Christ to be a propitiation for fin, Rom. iii. 28. Therefore
we conclude that a man is justified by faithSERM.
To understand this we may observe, that
Serm. that it may have any good effect upon us, VI. we must believe it. · And accordingly it is
obvious that faith is what the gospel requires as a first and fundamental duty: That we should believe in God, and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. Whereas by the religion of the Jews, especially in their latter days, and of those who endeavoured to blend Judaism with christianity, the great stress was laid on a scrupulous and exact observance of the ceremonial appointments : Therefore the gospel is called by St. Paul the faith, and the other the law. Thus in the first to the Rom. and 5th ver. he declares the end of the apostleship which he received from Christ, that it was for obedience to the faith. What can the meaning of that expression be, but obedience to the law of Christ, or the gospel, which God published by him to the gentile world ? as it is said, Afts vi.
7 that a great number of the priests were obedient to the faith. And in the third of the Gal. and ad ver. this only would I learn of you, received ye the spirit by the works of the law, or by the bearing of faith? and ver. 5 be that ministreth the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doth be it by the works of the law, or by the bearing of faith?