Page images

sense in which Christ taught Nicodemus; and there is another person, who has faith in Christ, in the sense in which it is said, "Fle that believeth shall be saved.” Will either of those persons iniss of salvation? You will no doubt answer in the negative, and give this as a reason, To be born of God implies faith in Christ. And may it not be said with equal, if not with greater propriety, that faith implies the new birth? For, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature.” And, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.” Now, if the essence of the new birth consists in love to God, and the new birth does not imply sinless obedience; then it follows that there is no law extant which requires sinless obedience in order to salvation.

“Give me understanding," says David in his prayer to God, and I shall keep thy law, yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.” Did he mean that if God would give him understanding, his future obedience would be sinless?

God, in every part of his Holy word, promises for.. giveness to the penitent. But does repentance imply sinless obe:lience? Penitent Peter was saved although he was not sinless. You will say, that he was saved by grace, through faith True. And is faith superior in moral excellency to that love which is required in the moral law? This was not the sentiment of the great Apostle of the Gentiles; for, “Now,” says he, “abideth faith, hope, charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.” God has not connected salvation by promise, with any one virtue to the exclusion of another. He who loves God will be saved; and he who obeys him will be saved; and he who repents of his sins and keeps the sayings of Christ will be saved.

It is certain, that to whom Christ gives repentance, he will grant a pardon, even life forevermore. Repentance and remission of sins are inseparably connected. Is a person a penitent? then his sins are blotted out. If it were not so, Christ would not have said to the penitent on the cross, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” It is certain that the sinner, dying im


penitent, will perish; and it is as certain that the penitent will not perish. “Repent,” saith the Lord, “and turn

, yourselves from all your transgressions so iniquity shall not be your ruin.”

It is evident from the Scriptures that God has prom- . ised to remit the sins of the penitent: it is evident therefore that God has given no law requiring sinless obedience in order to remission of sins, and final salvation, because God cannot make a law counteracting his own promises.

The purpose of redemption was eternally in the mind of God. And it is inconsistent to suppose, that God would construct a plan of operation from the foundation of the world, agreeably to which he designed to give repentance, and remission of sios; and then, having begun to rear up a church on a solid and glorious foundation, he should, in a certain period of this rising church, promulgate a law requiring sinless obedience in order to salvation. This would imply a retusal to give pardon and salvation to the penitent; although he had sent his son Jesus, to die and to rise again, that he might "give repentance to Israel and remission of sins." Things being thus constructed, to require sinless obedience in order to salvation would be inconsistent. The DIVINE BEING by such a mode of conduct would frustrate his own elernal purpose, the contemplation of which, filled his mind with infinite delight.

It will be granted, I conclude, that the Gospel doth not require sinless obedience in order to salvation, for “He that believeth shall be saved." And is the moral LAW, and all the rest of DIVINE REVELATION in direct opposition to the Gospel? The Gospel does not make void the Law through faith;” “yea," says Paul to the CHURCH at Rome, "we establish the law.

The promise of God that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, was an intimation that he contemplated the redemption of man. And redemption supposes the gift of repentance and remission of sins; - And that God might grant these blessings Christ was exalted. Now, can we suppose that


[ocr errors]

God would publish a law requiring sinless obedience in order to the remission of sins between the time of the prediction that Christ should he exalted, and his actual exaltation? We cannot. We may conclude, then, that God has given no law since the apostasy requiring sinless obedience in order to salvation.

If God has promised to save the believer, then, the salvation of him who loves God is certain; for the essential property of faith is love. “He who loveth not knoweth nut God, for God is love.” That faith therefore which is destitute of love will not save men. But to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom God hath sent, is life eternal. But may not a person know God, and the Son of God, in the sense of the Scriptures, and yet not be sinless?

3dly. “I'here is a sin,” says Saint John, “unto death: And there is a sin not unto death. And we know,” says he, “that whosoever is born of God sinneth not." The apostle cannot mean, however, that whosoever is born of God is perfectly free from sin; but his meaning is, as is evident from the context, that he does not commit that sin which is unto death. “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him lise for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death:

' I do not say that he shall pray for it.” There is one particular sin which will never be forgiven: what that is we learn from the very words of Christ. “Verily I say unto you, all sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith-soever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.” Here we see that all sin, except blasphemy against the Holy Ghost may be forgiven unto men. It is evident that every sin repented of shall be forgiven. Repentance and pardon are inseparably connected. “Blessed then is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

[ocr errors]

* Psalm xxxii, 1, 2.




JOHN V, 45, 46, 47. Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father:

there is one that accuseth you, even Moses in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believer me: for he wrote of me. believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

But if ye

IMPROVEMENT; Which consists in a number of inferences, more fully to illustrate the subject under consideration: and

1. The religion of the Bible has been essentially the same in all ages of the world.

The Bible contains a divine revelation. It exbibits God as good, gracious, and merciful. It brings into view God's eternal purpose concerning the work of redemption. It contains since the apostasy of our first parents, a harmonious and complete history of redeeming love. It early proclaimed redemption from the effects of the first offence, by the prediction that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. Soon after the fall of man, that the divine Sa. viour might be exhibited, God required the sacrificing of beasts. Abel therefore performed an acceptable service, when she brought the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof.” This divine institution brouglit clearly into view "the Lamb slain from the founda. tion of the world."

In consequence of the wickedness of the children of men, all the inhabitants of the earth, except Noah and his family, were destroyed from the face of the earth. “I, even I,” says Jehovah, “do bring a flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is



[merged small][ocr errors]

the breath of life from under heaven; and every thing which is in the earth shall die.” Notwithstanding this general devastation, there was one who "found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah was steadfast in God's covenant. Ile had not forgot the Law of sacrifices, by which the Lamb of God was prefigured; and therefore, the first thing, when he came forth from the ark, was to build an altar. "And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord, and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour.” This burnt offering was a sweet savour to the Lord, because Noah was a righteous man, and brought his offering to the Lord, by faith, in the promised Messiah. The blood of Christ was as efficacious then as when it was shed upon the cross at Mount Calvary.

“Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God.” And he was made righteous, and obtained the salvation of the Lord, by the obedience of him, through whom the Lord smelled a sweet savour.

It was suitable that the Law, requiring sacrifices and burnt-offerings in the days of Adam, Abel, Ioali, Abrahain, Isaac and Jacob, should be incorporated into the Law given to Moses on the mount; because the design of this law, as well as that of sacrifices, in the most ancient times, was to point out him, who,“now, once in the end of the world, hath

appeared put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” It was not, however, the only object of the Sinai law to point out the promised Saviour. . One great design of the LAW of Moses, was to teach men their duty, how they ought to treat God and one another, that they might obtain the favour of God.

The Bible is a consistent book; it is full of life and truth; and we cannot lave a part of this sacred vol. ame, and not love the whole. Truth is consistent with itscis; and this is the beauty and glory of the Bible. If we have a heart to obey one dirine co!mand, we shall be disposed to obey them all. llence,

« PreviousContinue »