« PreviousContinue »
resembling what was required of the first Adam; --and this requirement he fulfilled : for such a Mediator and High Priest became us, “who was holy, harmless, and undefiled, separate from sinners.” And the condition of this new covenant proposed to us, is “ to believe with the heart, unto righteousness," or, in order to obtain his righteousness as our own. Now when this requirement is complied with, “we are not without law to God, but under the law to Christ.” The pardoned offender is not rendered lawless. A justified state is not exempt from obligation. We are, as much as Adam was, required to love God with all our heart; and seeing we are bought with a price, from this very consideration there is an additional claim on our grateful obedience, there is the most reasonable demand upon us “to glorify God with our bodies and our spirits.” But if the condition of our continuance in a state of justification were the smallest deviation from rectitude, no one in this world, grown up above infancy, could be in a justified state. A failure of conformity to the law as a rule, in any respect or degree, such as a defect in loving God “with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul, and with all our strength, and our neighbour as ourselves," is a sin. If therefore every sin be a breach of covenant, and consequently a forfeiture of justification, we should in vain look
for any justified character among men, excepty peradventure, at the moment of believing, -and even then, it
may be justly questioned whether any person is entirely free from imperfection.
§ 23. It is now natural to enquire, what then is the condition of continuance in justification ?-a most important question, and to which his Lordship, and every reader, has a right to demand an answer. This I shall endeavour to give 66 with meekness and fear.” It is, in general, the continuance of that, be it what it may, which first put us in a justified state. This cannot be a personal freedom from all sin; else no one would ever be justified ; nor can it be freedom from gross offences, since from these many persons who have only a dead faith, or no faith at all, are exempt. It must therefore be, the possession of that lively faith which is the inseparable effect of possessing the Spirit of Christ.
“ If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his :” but “he who is in Christ Jesus, has no condemnation.” When it can be truly said of any man, that he has no justifying faith, has not the Spirit of Christ, or is not united to him as the living head of his living members, then it may be said that he is not in a justified state;—but not otherwise. What persons may fancy their state to be is one thing; what it is in reality, in the
sight of God, is a totally different one. Men may deceive themselves, but they cannot deceive the omniscient God. Every man, in the sight of God, is either condemned or justified; but there are different degrees of attainment in holiness; and “whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Although Calvinists believe, from the testimony of scripture, from the wisdom of God, from the offices of Christ, and other considerations, that the living principle of faith, and the union from which it proceeds, never utterly forsakes a person thus favoured, however partially foiled in an hour of temptation, yet none, they contend, degenerated from that state of mind which indicated his justification, has a right to conclude in favour of his acceptance, further than he is conscious of repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ: and he, who infers that he was once justified before God, though now he lives in the indulgence of known sin, has every reason to consider himself a miserable self deceiver.
§ 24. In short, a deviation from the rule of righteousness is sin, and sin displeases God; the indulgence of it provokes the holy one of Israel into anger, and such disobedience will bring on either the correction of a Father or the severity of a Judge. If they have a principle of a living faith, but are not so watchful against temptation
as they ought to be, “ their transgression shall be visited with a rod, and their iniquities with stripes,” but the divine “ faithfulness of
mercy shall be with them.” Sin is not connived at, but corrected; yet, for the sake of his interceding surety, the offender is not cut down as a cumberer of the ground, nor separated from his covenant head : “My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him :—my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.” The backslider, if left to himself, or dealt with according to strict demerit, would fall to perdition; (and indeed the smallest sin deserves this exposure, and the cancelling of justification :) but he who quickened him when dead in sin, who gave him the spirit of repentance and faith, and who intercedes for him, in opposition to the claims of unmixed justice, renews him again unto the exercise of repentance and faith. “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.” The gracious interceding Surety looks upon him with an eye of reproof and compassion; and he “goes out and weeps bitterly:" •the divine Head of spiritual influence to his mystical church and members, pours upon him a fresh supply of the spirit of grace and supplications, and this makes the penitent look unto him whom he has pierced, and to mourn with bitterness of spirit, and now he
cries, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.-Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.-Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”
§ 25. The reader is requested to judge without prejudice, whether the statement now given be not more consonant to scripture, more worthy of the divine perfections, the character of the Saviour, and the interests of practical religion, than the notion contended for by his Lordship; viz. that a dead faith and baptism will introduce a man into a justified state, but only a lively faith will ensure its continuance, or recover it when lost-that the neglect of any practicable duty forfeits a state of justification, which may be always recovered by repentance and faith, &c. It seems, from his account, that the first justification, which is obtained by a dead faith, is expected to produce sinless perfection, under pain of forfeiture; and that the same faith and promise of obedience will not obtain a restoration into the same state of acceptance. Have we not a right to demand, why conditions so extremely different should be required for an