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XXVII.

Deut. 27.26.

SERM. as it is in God, being an infinite perfection, we are not so well

-- able to comprehend it: neither is it the question, whether

God can do it if He will; but whether He will do it, though
He can. And therefore I shall rather, at present, choose to

explain this great doctrine by God's veracity, or faithfulness [Num. 23. to His Word. For all agree, that He cannot lie; but what19; Tit.1.2; Heb.6.18.) soever He saith shall be, shall certainly be as He saith it:

so that His Word must always stand, and be made good. Now if we consult His Holy Word, wherein He hath revealed His divine will and pleasure to us, we shall find that He hath often said, that all who transgress His laws,

shall be punished for it. One of the first things He said to Gen. 2. 17. man was, “That in the day he eat of the forbidden fruit, he

should surely die.” Whereby He plainly signified it to be His will, that every sin should be punished with death. And He hath frequently repeated the same in other terms

by His Prophets. But at present I shall mention only His Gal. 3. 10; saying, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things

which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” They who are cursed by God, are ipso facto under His displeasure, and condemned to die, and suffer all the punishments that He can inflict upon them. But here we see that every one

that doth not do every thing which He hath commanded, is Heb. 6. 18. thus cursed by God Himself. And “ it being impossible for

God to lie,” it is likewise impossible but this curse should (Rom. 3. take effect, and be executed upon all mankind, because “all 23.)

have sinned,” and are guilty before God; and are therefore, in express terms, cursed by Him.

Now how is it possible for any of us ever to avoid this curse, or have it taken off from us? No way certainly, but

by Christ; nor by Him, unless He hath borne it for us. Gal. 3. 13. But as the Apostle there saith, “ Christ hath redeemed us

from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." Christ, the eternal Son of God, having taken upon Him the

whole nature of man, and so sustaining the person of every Heb. 2. 9. one that is of that nature; “He,” in it, “by the grace of

God, tasted death for every man,” even the cursed death of the cross: and so was made a curse for us, or in our stead, suffering that curse in our nature, which we must otherwise

. 18; 22.

have suffered every man in his own person,“ whereby,” as the Apostle here saith, “He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law: for, by this means, the curse which was denounced in the law against all the transgressors of it, was executed upon us all in our common head and representative, and in our very nature, united to a divine Person: so that God's Word is now fulfilled and satisfied. And He may freely, without any violation of His Word, remit that curse which He had threatened against us, and instead thereof confer all manner of blessings upon us, for His Son's sake, in whom, and in whom alone, He Himself hath also said, “ That all the nations of the earth shall be blessed." Gen. 12. 3 ; By Him therefore we may be saved from all the curses of 18. the law, notwithstanding that God Himself hath threatened them. But we never heard of, nor can imagine any other way whereby it is possible to be done, without plain contradiction to the Word of God : and thereby may conclude, that as God's Word is true, “ There is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved, but only the name of Jesus Christ.”

But to put the whole matter out of dispute, let us briefly consider St. Paul's case, both as he was a Jew, and as he was a Christian ; as he was out of Christ, and as he was in Him. As a Jew, he was born and bred in that religion which God Himself had revealed and settled in the world. He was “ brought up at the feet of Gamaliel,” one of the Acts 22. 3. most eminent Rabbis the Jews ever had. He was “ taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the Fathers,” and was as “ zealous towards God” as any man. He lived ch. 22. 3. after the strictest sect in that religion, a Pharisee. He ch. 26. 5. “profited in the Jews' religion, above many of his equals in Gal. 1. 14. his own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of his fathers.” He could truly say, “ I have lived in Acts 23. 1. all good conscience towards God, until this day.” He could and did assert, when inspired by God Himself, that he had more ground to trust in the flesh, or Jewish religion, than any other: “If any other man,” saith he, “ thinketh that he Phil. 3. 4-6. hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more; circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the

XXVII.

SERM. law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the Church ;

touching the righteousness which is in the Law, blameless." Where shall we find a man out of Christ, that ever went farther than this in religion and morality? Nowhere certainly upon the face of the earth : and yet this was St. Paul's case in the Jewish religion. And if any mortal man could have been saved without Christ, it cannot be doubted but he might; and so questionless he himself thought, so long as he continued in that religion. But did he think so afterwards, when he was enlightened, and directed by God's Holy Spirit what to think and say? So far from that, that

he had no sooner said these great things of himself, but he Phil. 3. 7-9. immediately adds, “ But what things were gain to me, those

I counted loss for Christ; yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Where we see how, notwithstanding the great advantages he had, and the extraordinary proficiences he had made in the Jewish religion, he slights them all as nothing worth, nor contributing any thing at all towards his justification without Christ : no, not although as touching the righteousness which is in the Law, the whole Mosaic Law, both moral and

ceremonial, he was blameless. As he saith in another place, 1 Cor. 4. 4. “I know nothing by myself, yet am I not hereby justified.”

Though he was not conscious to himself of any one wilful sin, yet he doth not look upon himself as thereby justified; nay, he positively saith, he was not. And therefore he here most earnestly desires, above all things in the world, to be found in Christ, “ not having his own righteousness, which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” And if this be not another righteousness from that which is of the Law, if it be not the righteousness of God Himself, and not of a mere man, if it be not made ours by faith in Christ, if it be not the only righteousness whereby we can be justified or accounted righteous before God, according to

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the doctrine of our Church, and by consequence, if there be any other way whereby it is possible for us to be justified or saved, but only by Jesus Christ; I do not see what sense can be put upon the words, without “wresting them to our [2 Pet. 3. own destruction.”

And indeed, if they presume to affirm, and that too from Holy Scripture, that a man may be saved in any religion, without faith in Christ, if they do not wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction, for my part I know not who can. For there is no heresy can be more destructive to men's souls, or more repugnant to the whole design of the Gospel, than this is : for, to what purpose did “Jesus Christ come 1 Tim. 1. 15. into the world to save sinners," if sinners could be saved without Him? To what purpose did “ God give His Son, John 3. 16. that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” if any man may have everlasting life without believing in Him? To what purpose did He give “ Himself a ransom for all,” if there be any that have no 1 Tim. 2. 6. occasion for it? To what purpose was He “ delivered for Rom. 4. 25. our offences, and raised again for our justification,” if we could be justified from our offences, whether He had been ever raised again or no? To what purpose did He require, " that repentance and remission of sins should be preached Luke 24.47. in His name among all nations,” if people of any nation might repent, and be pardoned by any other name as well as His? To what purpose doth “He now appear in the Heb. 9. 24. presence of God," and there make intercession for us, if our Salvation doth not depend upon it? To what purpose was the Gospel written: was it not, “ that we might believe that John 20. 31. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, we might have life through His name?Doth not Christ Himself say, “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, ch. 15. 4. except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in Me?” Doth not He say, “I am the way, the truth, ch. 14. 6. and the life, no man cometh unto the Father but by Me?Doth not He say, “He that believeth on Him is not con- ch. 3. 18. demned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the Onlybegotten Son of God ?” Doth not He say, “He that

XXVII.

35.

Serm. believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that beMark 16.16. lieveth not, shall be damned ?” What can be the meaning

of these, and many such expressions scattered all over the Bible, “ If there be any other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved, but the name of Christ?

And yet it is strange! there are some who would wrest

the Scriptures so far as to make them prove the contrary Acts 10. 34, too, especially that place, where St. Peter saith,“ Of a truth

I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation, he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him." But this serves only to shew, that when men have espoused an error, they will catch at any text to maintain it by itself, without considering the context and design of the place. If they had done that, they would have seen, that this is so far from supporting, that it quite overthrows their opinion. The case, in short, is this: St. Peter being admonished by a vision to go to Cornelius, though a Gentile; he being sent for, accordingly went : being come to him, Cornelius tells him, “That he was commanded by an Angel to send for him, to know of him what he ought to do. Now therefore,” saith he, “we are all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.” St. Peter hearing this, opened his mouth and said, “ Of a truth, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons ;” that is, I see now that the Gentiles must be brought into the Church of Christ, as well as the Jews: and then adds, “ But in every nation, he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him." He doth not say, such a one shall be thereby saved, but only that he is accepted with God, so as that he may be admitted into the Church of Christ, to be saved by Him. Cornelius was doubtless as devout a Gentile as ever lived, yet it seems he could not be saved without the knowledge of Christ: if he could, what need all this stir about it? Why must an Angel be sent to him, and St. Peter warned by a vision, and by the Spirit, to go to him, and all to get him into the Church of Christ, if after all he might have been saved as well without it? Certainly, if there was no other in all the

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