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Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace,
Ep. iv. 363–372.
Yet here God is wholly overlooked, and the affections cannot be good before him.'
" Therefore the true definition of the law of na“ture is, that the law of nature is the knowledge of “the divine law, implanted in the nature of man. For on this account man is said to have been 'created after the image of God; because the 'image, that is, the knowledge of God, and a cer"tain likeness of the divine mind shone forth in ' him: that is, the discrimination of things hon'ourable and base : and with this knowledge the powers of man agreed. The will, before the fall, was turned unto God; true sentiments also glowed in the mind, and, in the will, love towards God; and the heart assented, without any
hesita‘tion, to the things known. And they determined, 'that we were created to acknowledge and praise 'God ; and to obey that Lord who created us, ' sustained us, and impressed his image on us ; who
demands and approves righteous things; and on 'the contrary, condemns and punishes things un
righteous. . But though, in the present corrup'tion of nature, the image of God being defaced, 'the knowledge of God does not thus shine forth, ' yet it remains : but the heart fights against it,
and certain doubts rush in on account of some things which seem to oppose our knowledge.''
The reader will observe, that all, except the last sentence, is spoken of man as God at first created him ; and the energetic expression, sed cor repugnat, “the heart fights against what the understanding cannot but admit, clearly establishes our sentiments, and shews the need which we have of a “new heart," in order “ to walk in newness of life.”
“ Make the tree good, and his fruit good; for a corrupt tree cannot bring “forth good fruit.”.
“ I am not come,” says Christ,“ to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance :" we may therefore affirm, upon the authority of our *blessed Saviour himself, that there is a degree of righteousness in some men.'2
In what sense then did the prophet, and from him the apostle, declare, that “there is none
righteous, no not one ?"3 The persons of whom our Lord spake either had previously repented, or they had not. If they had repented, they had acknowledged their sinfulness and need of mercy: if they had not, either they had never sinned, or they remained impenitent and unpardoned ; but “ God now commandeth all men every where to “ repent.”4 He, therefore, “ who needs no repen“ tance," must not only have in him a degree of righteousness,' but must be perfectly righteous
Translation of note from Melancthon, Ref. 10. - Ref.11.
3 Ps. xiv. 3. Rom. iii. 10. Acts xvii. 30.
in heart and life, and must have been so all his former days.
* By the righteous (says Whitby, very justly,) we are not to understand those who are only ' righteous in their own conceits, such as the · Pharisees were, who justified themselves before 'men, and trusted in themselves that they were ' righteous, and despised others in comparison of
themselves ; for such are not whole, but have 'great need of the spiritual physician ; and such especially the gospel calleth to repentance.''
I shall not here attempt to support the exposition ? given by the commentators, who wish to ' reconcile the passage to the Calvinistic system : but it is obvious that many “ trust in themselves “ that they are righteous,” and “justify them“ selves before men,” who are not “ righteous “ in the sight of God ;” and that many exceedingly need the Physician who think they do not. He, who was “ filled with the Holy Ghost “from his mother's womb," said to Jesus, " I have “ need to be baptized of thec:"? and no saint on earth ever rose above the
“ Heal me, and “I shall be healed; save me and I shall be “saved.”—If, however, there be "righteousness ‘in any man,' so that he“ needs no repentance;" he is not one of those, whom Christ came to call and save; and will either be saved without Christ or not at all.3
Moreover, the word sinners here imports such persons as live in a customary practice of sin, so that the tenor of their lives is wicked, and who
1 Ref. 12.
• Matt. iii. 14. Luke i. 15.
3 Gal. v.
are therefore to be called to that repentance ' which consists in the change of their lives, from • the service of sin to holiness, from slavery to • Satan to the fear of God; and therefore by the
righteous who need no repentance, we are not 'to understand those who are entirely free from · sin ; for so, there is not a just man upon earth,
nor any man who is not a sinner ; but those who ' are truly and sincerely righteous, have truly . ‘ reformed their lives, who carefully endeavour to abstain from all known sins, and set themselves sincerely to the performance of their whole duty both to God and man, and so are righteous and acceptable in the sight of God ; in which sense 'Job was righteous and eschewed evil ; Zacharias ' and Elizabeth were righteous, walking in all the commandments of the Lord : and Simeon ; and so they needed not that repentance which consists in the change of the life from a course of sinning to a living unto God.'1
Did either Dr. Whitby, or his Lordship in quoting him, intend to affirm, that our Lord came to call none but such persons as live 'in a customary practice of wickedness, so that the tenor of their lives is wicked ?' Are others then excluded from his salvation ? or have they no need of it? Are all others justified by their works and not by the mercy of God, through the merits of Christ by faith ?? Are they then good, and their works' good in the sight of God, before they are • influenced by the Spirit of God?'3 If this be not the case, whatever meaning may be affixed to this obscure and perplexed state of the case, it
does not at all alter our argument : for we speak only of that which is good in the sight of God.' This learned anticalvinist, however, describes the persons spoken of, as ' men who have truly reformed their lives. They had then, once at least, sufficiently needed repentance : they were not righteous originally, or in themselves, which is all that our argument or doctrine requires.'I am not come to call the righteous, as you 'arrogantly imagine yourselves to be, but such
poor sinners as these to repentance and salvation.'1 The case of Zacharias and Elizabeth, and Simeon, and others who were “just and devout,” yet“ waited for the consolation of Israel," was in most things, similar to that of the saints under the Old Testament: nor do we hesitate to ascribe the excellency of their character and conduct to 'the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit,' and not to any thing spiritually good remaining in our fallen nature. The good things · here mentioned 'must mean good in the sight of God : such an 'action our weak and unassisted nature will unquestionably not allow us to perform.'? It
may be said that these persons' lived before 'the gospel-dispensation. Was it then peculiar to Abraham to be justified by faith, and “of faith " that it might be by grace?" and were other men under the preceding dispensations, able to keep God's commandments ? and has the gospel-dispensation deprived men of that ability · For we now teach even our children, that they have it not. “My good child, know this, that thou art