תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

* The authors of these epistles were therefore chiefly anxious, by the use of plain and intelligible language, to induce their converts to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they were called, • by an upright and holy life; to make professed ' believers in the gospel real Christians.''

Were then the churches, to which the apostles wrote, constituted of professed believers who were not ‘ real Christians ' This, alas! is to a great degree the case in modern times, now that whole nations profess to believe in Christ, while the bulk of them do not so much as appear to live as it becometh Christians; but surely it was not thus, with the select companies collected into churches by the apostles themselves. And, if the epistles were written to make professed believers real Chris

tians,' where are we to find those fuller instructions, by which real Christians were led further into the knowledge of the deeper and more mysterious parts of Christianity? The laboured discussions of St. Paul in his epistles to the Romans, the Galatians, and the Hebrews, were evidently intended to settle the minds and judgments of the persons addressed, in all the great truths of Christianity ; to explain and confirm the grand doctrines of the gospel : not only to induce the “converts to walk worthy of their vocation,' but also to rectify their errors, to recal them from their wanderings, to guard them against deceivers, and to lead them forward in the knowledge of Christ : “ that they should no more be children, tossed to “ and fro with every wind of doctrine, by the

! Ref. 162.

“ sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby

they lay in wait to deceive; but, speaking the “ truth in love, might grow up into him in all

things, which is the head, even Christ.”] I think no man can attentively read the first chapters of the epistles to the Ephesians, the Colossians, and the Thessalonians, without being convinced that the persons to whom they were sent were already real Christians,' who gave decided proof of living faith, by“ the work of faith, the “ labour of love, and the patience of hope.” Even those to the Corinthians and the Galatians, in which much warning and reproof are contained, proceed on the supposition that the inost of the persons addressed were true Christians, at least “ babes in Christ.” Those to Timothy and Titus were evidently intended to instruct these eminent ministers how to perform, more and more completely, the duties of their important station. In that to the Hebrews the apostle says, “ Called of “ God a High Priest after the order of Melchize“ dec, of whom we have many things to say, and “ hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hear

ing." Yet, having shewn that they had made very small proficiency compared with what might have been expected, he proceeds with his purpose, and says, “ Therefore, leaving the first principles of “ the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto per“ fection.”2 St. Peter speaks thus of St. Paul: “ As our beloved brother Paul also, according to “the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto

you: as also in all his epistles, speaking in

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“ them of these things ; in which are some things “ hard to be understood, which they that are un“ stable and unlearned wrest, as they do the other

scriptures, to their own destruction.”] These were not “ milk for the unskilful in the word of

righteousness,” but strong “ meat, which belongeth to those of full age ; even those who,

by reason of use, have their senses exercised to “ discern good and evil.”—If, however, any modern teachers go further into doctrinal discussions than the apostolical epistles do; and if they neglect ' by the use of plain and intelligible language to

induce their converts to “ walk worthy of their “ vocation ;” they are justly to be reprehended. We at least in our times, and even in every part of this highly favoured land, may find abundant opportunity of attempting to convert' professed * believers into real Christians;' and should use all scriptural means, with persevering earnestness and diligence, for that purpose.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

' Again, St. John says, “God so loved the world, 'that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life ;” and St. Paul says, “ Christ became the author of eternal salvation unto all ' them that obey him :" salvation therefore is pro‘mised both to faith and to obedience; and con

sequently faith and obedience must in reality signify the same thing, or include each other; otherwise the two passages would be irreconcilable. The obedience, in the latter, is the obe

' 2 Pet. iij. 15, 16.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

‘dience which proceeds from faith ; and how or

why should men obey Christ, if they do not be‘lieve him to be the predicted Redeemer of the world? The faith in the former is the faith

which produces, or is accompanied by, obedience; and indeed a true and lively faith in the merits ' and promises of Christ is naturally productive of obedience to his commands.'1

That act of obedience, by which we receive Christ as our Saviour, is the same as faith in him ; but all subsequent obedience is produced by faith, and consequently cannot signify the same thing as faith. The tree produces the fruit: but the tree and the fruit are not the same thing, any more than the mother and the child are the same person ; nor can they properly be said to include

each other. The tree indeed in some sense included the fruit, before it produced it; but the fruit never included the tree. The rest of the quotation shews, that the passage was intended chiefly to prove that true faith always produces obedience, about which there should be no controversy. Yet the important doctrine of justification by faith alone requires some notice to be taken of such expressions as are inconsistent with it: and, if faith and obedience ‘signify the same

thing,' we are as really justified by obedience as by faith ; and then we cannot be justified till after we have performed the obedience. But 'good

works, which are the fruits of faith, follow after justification ; '? and his Lordship maintains, that justification, in respect of Christians, is a past, and

[ocr errors]

' Ref. 162, 163.

? Art. xii.

not a future thing. Salvation is promised both 'to faith and obedience, therefore faith and obe‘dience must in reality mean the same thing, or ' include each other.' Is this conclusion fairly deduced? Is it not wholly illogical ? The legitimate conclusión is, that faith and obedience, (where faith is genuine,) are inseparably found in the same persons. Nothing further can be inferred from it.'

6

[ocr errors]

“A man is saved by obedience which proceeds from faith ; a man is saved by faith which produces obedience; a man is saved by faith and

obedience. In all these three propositions, Christ ' is supposed to be the meritorious cause of sal

vation, and faith and obedience are asserted to "be in the person saved. If the obedience of the ' first proposition does not proceed from faith, it • does not save ; if the faith of the second propo“sition does not produce obedience, it does not 'save ; and therefore both faith and obedience, as

declared in the third proposition, are necessary to salvation.'2

That' a man is saved by faith which produces obedience,' accords to the language of scripture : the other propositions, if intended of final salvation from sin and all its consequences, may bear a scriptural construction; but should we not

speak according to” the language, as well as to the meaning of “the oracles of God ? ” Moreover, as justification and salvation are often considered as the same thing, or as convertible terms, it is

I See Ref. 99, 100.

: Ref. 163.

« הקודםהמשך »