« הקודםהמשך »
fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, long-suf. fering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, tempe. rance, hereby you know that he abideth in you, by the Spi. rit which he hath given you, 1 John iii. 24. Labour likewise to clear up this difficulty, not only by the life, but by the growth of grace. If you grow more humble, self-abasing and self-condemning: if you grow more penitent, and more passionately groan under the burther of, and mourn for deliverance from all your sins: if your love to God increases, and you take more delight in him and in his ways ; or at least long after a life of nearer communion with him, with more ardent desire : if you are more fpiritual in your choughts, meditations, and affections, more heavenly in your conversation; and more careful of your respective duties both to God and man, then you may know that Christ abideth in you and y him ; in that you bring forth much
fruit, John xv. 5. If you get satisfying evidences of your union to Christ, adore, admire, and praise the infinite condescension, and the astonishing love of the glorious Redeemer, in taking such dust and alhes, such sin and pollution, into union with himself. Contemplate the amazing transaction of love with admiration, and let the love of Christ. constrain you, to live to the praise of the glory of that, grace, by which you become accepted in the beloved. That Christ may abide in you
you in him, that you may win Christ, and be found in him at his
appearance and kingdom, and that you may reign with him for ever, is the prayer of,
LETTER XVIII. Wherein fome ANTINOMIAN
ABUSES of the Doctrine of Believers union to Christ, or Pleas from it for LICENTIOUSNESS and Security in finning, are considered and obviated.
that the cons sequences you draw from the doctrine of our
union to Christ, as I have represented it, are without any foundation ; and that a just view of the case must convince you, that this doctrine gives no advantage to • licentious and latitudinarian principles,' but the direct contrary. I shall therefore endeavour according to your defire, to conlider the Antinomian principles you are pleased to propofe ; and see whether they naturally * follow from what I taught in my last.'
• You do not fee (you tell me) if the principles I teach are allowed, how the Antinomians can be charg' ed with error, in suppoling that the true believer has (no cause to repent of his firs, or to entertain any dif
quietment of mind with respect to them, since he is ( united to Christ, and all his fins are charged to Christ's ' account, whereby he has fatisfied for them all. Why 6-therefore should the believer be concerned about a debt,
which is fully discharged ? Justice is fatisfied with
reípect to him ; Christ delights in him, as a mem• ber of his own body : the Spirit of God dwells in him,
notwithstanding any of his fins and imperfections. Why may he not therefore be perfectly easy with respect to
sin; and look upon it (as a modern Antinomian ex• presses himself) unworthy of our least regards ?' To this I answer.
1. That no man who is practically conformed to this Antinomian principle, can know himself to be a believe er; and therefore there can be no foundation for this reasoning, irreny person whatloever. Were your ar. guing allowed to be just, it can take place with none, but those who have infallible evidence of their union to Christ; which it is impoffible any man should have, who is not burthened with his fins, who does not bate them, and groan after deliverance from them. Repentance is the genuine and necessary fruit of a true faith.
They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, " and shall mourn, Zech. xii. 10. • That thou mayest ( remember, and be confounded, and never open thy « mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I am
pacified towards thee for all that thou hast done, faith o the Lord God,' Ezek. xvi. 63. • And ye shall be my
people, and I will be your God. Then shall ye re. • member your own evil ways and your doings which
' were not good ; and shall loathe yourselves in your • own fight, for your iniquities and for your abomina. tions,' Ezek. xxxvi. 28. 31. It is the true believer, and he only, that is capable aright to mourn for fin, truly to hate it, and to groan under the burthen of it. Unbelievers
may mourn under a sense of their guilt and danger, but this is not to repent of fin. It is the belier. er only, who forrows for fin as fin; who hates all fin; who groans, being burthened, froni a sense of his sinful. ness, and who cries out with the apostle, 0 wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death! What room can there then be for those licenti. ous conclusions you speak of? Who is the person that can thus rock his conscience to sleep, under the preva. lence of his lusts, from the doctrine of our union to Christ, as I have described it ? Must it be supposed to be one who is united to Chrilt ? Or one who is not united to Christ? Surely not the former; for how can he be indolent, careless and secure in the commillion of lin, from the doctrine of our union to Christ, who has no evidence of this being his case; nor can have any
such evidence, till he is poor in fpirit, and is thereby qualified for the kingdom of heaven, Matth. v. 3. till he is one that mourns for his fins, and comes under the promise of comfort, ver. 4. and untill he is of a contrite and humble spirit ; for with such, and only with such, has the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, promised to dwell ? Isa. Ivii. 15. And I think, I need not endeavour to prove, that he who is not united to Christ, has no shadow of a plea or pretence to make for carelessness and security in fin, from the doctrine before us. Whence it follows, that all pretences of this kind are without any rational foundation. They only proceed from men's delight in fin, in a life of fensual ease and carnal security; and not at all from the precious truth before us. This sacred truth máy indeed be perverted and abused; and so may all the other doctrines of the Gospel, 2 Pet. ii. 16. But they who thus turn the grace of God into wantonness, do it at the peril of their souls; and will find but little comfort in it, when they come to make up their accounts.
Whatever extra. vagant pretences men's licentious dispositions may prom them to, they must in the conclusion find it true,
a life of continued repentance of fin, a life of continued self abasement and self-judging, and a life of repeated and renewed mourning after pardon of and victory over our remaining corruptions, is a neceffary fruit and evidence of our union to Christ; and belongs to the way which leadeth to life eternal, and in which the saints walk to heaven. If therefore we would not too late be found with a lie in our right hand, we must with Daniel, pray to the Lord, and make our confellion, Dan. ix. 4. We must, with the church, acknowledge ourselves as an unclean thing, Isa. lxiv. 6. We must, with Job, even ab. hor ourselves, and repent in dust and asbes, Job xlii. 6. We must, with Ephraim, bemoan ourselves, Jer. xxxi. 18. And with David, have our hearts fail us, on ac. count of the number and aggravations of our sins, Pfal.
For these are the characters, these are the dif. positions of such, who are indeed united to Chrift.
2. There is greater guilt in the fins of believers than in the sins of others. They have therefore greater cause to be humbled for them, and to lament them before God. They are indeed united to Chrift, reconciled to God, freed from all condemnation, and made heirs ac. cording to the hope of eternal life, the fatisfying evidences of which blessed Itate must carry them above any tor. menting fears of hell and eternal perdition ; and deliver them from that legal repentance, which is the product of desponding thoughts, and a fear of amazement. But is there no other motive to repentance, but slavish fears of hell? Does not a true repentance and a genuine for. row for sin always flow from an affecting sense of the contrariety of fin to the nature and will of God; from a sense of the ingratitude there is in fin, to a bountiful benefactor and a compassionate Saviour ; and from a sense of the dishonour to God's name, the violation of his law, the abuse of his mercy and love, the affront and provocation to his holy Spirit, the distance procured be. tween God and us; and the prejudice to others, as well as to our own souls, occasioned by our finning against God.' Now in all these respects, the sins of believers are more aggravated than the fins of other men. They are distinguithed from the most of the world, by renewing and faving grace : and must it not cut them to the
heart, to think of their vile ingratitude to such an infinitely kind and beneficent friend ; and of their horrid abuse of such an unmerited mercy and love! They are united to Christ, washed in his precious blood, and jus. tified by his righteousness ; and can they be content to load him with indignities, who has not thouglit his own blood too dear a ransom for their souls; and who has by the power of his grace plucked them out of the guilt and danger of a perilhing world, and made them heirs of the eternal inheritance ! They have felt the divine influences and consolations of the blessed Spirit ; and have tasted that the Lord is gracious, and shall they by their fins grieve the Spirit of God, provoke him to with draw, and to with-hold his quickening and comforting influences from them ? They are the friends and children of God, the sworn subjects of the eternal majelty ; yea, even the spouse of Jesus Christ. And fall fuch make little account of sin ! Is this thy kindness to thy friend ? Is it a light thing for a child to rebel againit his compassionate Father; for a subject to take up arms against his prince; or for a wife to violate her marriage vows ? Certainly the fins of believers are aggravated, in proportion to the various obligations they are under, and though they have no cause of desponding and discouraging fears, they have the greatest cause to groan under the burden of their lins, and to groan after deliverance from them. Their union to Christ is so far from extenuating their fins, that it renders them more heinous in the fight of God; and is the strongest reason why they should watch against them, lament and hate them. For this reason, God may justly expoftulate with them upon their finning against him, as in Deut. xxxii. 6. Do ye thus requite the Lord, o foolish people and unwise ? is not he tby Father that hath bought thee? Hath he not male thely and established thee? 3.
It is true of believers, as well as of others, that ex. cept they repent they shall surely perish. They are indeed safe in the hands of Christ; and n9ne fball pir!ck them out of his hands : he will preserve them to his hea. venly kingdom. But then, he will fave them in his own way, in the way of a repeated renewed exercise of re