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error of imagining, that this single point is all ' that is required of a Christian; or that obedience * or belief in this one article will compensate for · disobedience or unbelief in any other. “ He ' that offendeth in one point, is guilty of all :"
surely then every portion and particle of the · Christian character is to be explained, lest a man by a single omission become a transgressor of the whole law. Much less are doctrinal subjects
totally to supersede the duties of morality," for · what does it profit, though a man say he hath
faith, and have not works?” Let not these two, • faith and works, which Christ has joined together ‘in his gospel, be ever separated by his ministers. * Let faith be inculcated as the appointed condition
of justification ; and let works at the same time 'be always enforced as the necessary fruits and "sole criterion of true faith.'1
Except the word condition, there is nothing in this passage
which does not accord to the views of the author of these remarks. He is a very defective minister of Christianity indeed, who does not preach the whole of Christianity, in scriptural connexion and proportion. It would be a most important blessing, if these publications should excite those clergymen who have greatly excluded, or cast into the back ground, the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, to bring them forward, and to give them all that prominency which they have in the apostolical writings, and to graft all their practical exhortations upon them: and if such evangelical preachers as have too much confined
i Ref. 1674-169.
themselves to doctrines, promises, and privileges, and have been too general and slight in practical instructions and exhortations, might be induced to insist more fully and particularly upon them, as the genuine deduction from their doctrines ; according to the just remark of the pious Doddridge. I can truly say, should I live to see it, that I should as cordially rejoice in the latter, as in the former effect. The deficiency, indeed, has been by no means so great as our opponents suppose ; yet there has been a deficiency in evangelical preachers, in respect of practical instruction, which many of us have deeply lamented, and endeavoured, perhaps with some success, to remedy. He who does not preach the grand doctrines of salvation by grace, in Christ, through faith, builds without a foundation: and he who, laying this foundation, does not build upon it every part of Christian holiness and obedience, has a foundation without a building erected on it; or one constructed of such materials as will never stand the fiery trial.
* But, while I am contending that a strict attention to the duties of morality is indispensably ' required by the religion of Christ, I must repeat,
that good works are in no respect or degree the 'meritorious cause of our salvation. Whenever we speak of any
benefit derived from the gospeldispensation, all notion of deserving it, all idea of 'merit on our part, is to be disclaimed. The whole ' and every part of this inestimable blessing, every consequence and effect proceeding from it, directly or indirectly, is the free gift of God to
‘ unworthy and undeserving man. This distinc
tion, between meritorious cause and appointed 'condition, is a very material one.''
I quote this passage, as cordially approving it.
• But, if we went into the opposite extreme, and ' believed that good works were not the appointed * condition of salvation, we should of course become indifferent to the character of our actions.'2
* Works the appointed condition of salvation may here be noticed as language not found in scripture, nor known to our reformers. If we * believed that good works were not the appointed condition of salvation, we should of course become indifferent to the character of our actions.' This must mean, that self-love is the highest, or the only motive, of human activity, even in the most religious persons : otherwise love to God and man, love to holiness, hatred of sin, and other disinterested motives, might render us“ zealous “ of good works,” even if we did not believe them to be the condition of salvation. But, if nothing except mercenary hope and slavish fear can deter men from wickedness, it is manifest that they are destitute of love, gratitude, benevolence, and every right disposition.
* In the Revelation it is said, “ Blessed are they · that do his commandments, that they may have * right to the tree of life.” This is a right not · founded in the real merit of men, but derived ' from the gracious promise of God; not a claim
. Ref. 170.
3 Rev. xxü. 14.
God's justice, but a free gift of his mercy. ' A promise, from its nature, implies that it might · have been withholden without injustice; but he ' who promises contracts a debt, which he is bound ' to discharge upon the performance of the con'ditions on which the promise is made. “Justum est ut reddat quod debet; debet autem quod pollicitus est.”' (Bernard.) A promise proves * the kindness of him who promised, and not the 'worthiness of him to whom the promise is made;
and that kindness is the greater, the greater is • the value of the thing promised, and the more easy the conditions upon which it is promised.'2
This note appears to give a right view of the text on which it is made.
* Those, who listen to the enthusiasts of the present day, too often suppose themselves the • 3 chosen vessels of God, and are persuaded that ' no conduct, however atrocious, however unchris
tian, can finally deprive them of eternal felicity; ' since they are taught to believe that, though it · may be ordained that for a time they may fall ' from grace, yet it is irreversibly decreed that
they shall ultimately be saved. If these preachers * do not in so many words tell their hearers, that their moral conduct will have no influence upon the sentence which will be pronounced upon * them in the last day; or, if they do not entirely pass over in silence the great duties of morality;
It is just that any one render (or pay) what he oweth ; but he oweth what he hath promised.'
Note, Ref. 170. 3 Acts ix. 15. Xalos exhoys, vessel of election.
yet, if they dwell so much more earnestly and 'more frequently upon the necessity and merit of
faith, as to induce an opinion that good works ' are of little comparative importance, the natural consequence will be a laxity of principle and a dissoluteness of manners. Even a doubt of the 'efficacy of virtue will lead to a disregard of its laws.'1
This belongs properly to the subject of the next chapter. Had the words “the enthusiasts of the
present day' been explained, and the reader clearly informed what body of men were intended, what sentiments these persons maintained, and how they might be distinguished from other teachers : the caution to avoid them would have been more explicit, and suited to produce more effect. As it is, we must put it along with another phrase, often improperly used on the other side of the question ; “The blind Pharisees of the present
day. It will, however, be concluded by numbers, that his Lordship means the evangelical clergy,' as part of the company at least. But I hope there is not one of them, I am sure there are but few, who teach their hearers to 'suppose themselves the
chosen vessels of God, and to be persuaded that 'no conduct, however atrocious or unchristian, * can finally deprive them of eternal felicity.' Many of the evangelical clergy do not indeed hold the doctrine referred to ; it forms no prominent part of the public instruction of a large majority of those who do; and they who are most particular on the subject, with not many exceptions, state
i Ref. 171, 172.