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dience, doing the will of God, and forgiveness of enemies, as requisite in order to our acceptance and admission to the enjoyment of our heavenly inheritance: and how can this consist with the doctrine of justification by faith alone? No doubt these things are necessary: nay, there is no salvation without them, according to the time and opportunity afforded; nor does any man come short of salvation in whom they are found. These are " things which accompany salvation ;'” they either prepare the heart for receiving Christ by faith, or they are evidences that he is thus received: yet Christ himself is our whole Salvation, and faith alone receives him and appropriates the blessing; not by believing without evidence that Christ's is ours; but by applying to him, according to the word of God, that he may be ours.
Should it be further objected, that the decision of the day of judgment is always stated to be made "according to men's works :" it may suffice to answer in this place, that no faith justifies, except that which works by love; that love uniformly produces obedience; and that the works thus wrought will certainly be adduced, as evidences in court, to distinguish between the true believer and all other persons.--Finally, the objection, that this doctrine tends to licentiousness, seems to have been already sufficiently answered, by the explanation given of the nature and effects of saving faith; and I shall only add a most earnest exhortation to all, who hold the doctrine, to walk so circumspectly, “ that whereas men speak evil of “ them, as evil doers; they may be ashamed, " that falsely accuse their good conversation in “ Christ.""
'Heb. vi. 9. 2 Pet. i. 5-11,
Thus having explained the doctrine of justification by faith alone, “ through the righteousness of “God, even of our Saviour Jesus Christ;2” and proved it to be that of the Holy Scriptures; I would conclude by reminding the reader of its vast importance.--" How-should man be just with “God?”- All our eternal interests depend on the answer, which, in our creed and experience, we return to this question: for if God hath, for the glory of his own name, law, and government, appointed a method of justifying sinners, and revealed it in the gospel; and they, in the pride of their hearts, refuse to seek the blessing in this way, but will come for it according to their own devices; he may justly, and will certainly, leave them under merited condemnation. May God inclive every reader to give this subject a serious consideration, with the day of judgment and eternity before his eyes!-Nor let it be forgotten, that all the Reformers from popery, (who were emi. nent men, however some may affect to despise them,) deemed the prevailing sentiments concerning the way of a sinner's justification before God, !1 Pet. ii. 12. jii. 16. 2 2 Pet. i. 1. * Rom. x. 1-4,
to be the grand distinction between a standing and a falling church.
Yet we should also observe, that “the truth” itself
may be" held in unrighteousness :" and they who receive this doctrine into a proud and carnal heart, by a dead faith, awfully deceive themselves, and quiet their consciences in an impenitent un. justified state; and likewise bring a reproach upon the truth, and fatally prejudice the minds of men against it, of which they will have a dreadful account to give at the last day. For did all, who profess, and argue for this “ doctrine of God our “Saviour,” adorn it by such a conduct, as it is suited to produce; Pharisees, sceptics, and infidels, would be deprived of their best weapons, and must fight against the gospel at a vast disadvantage. May the Lord give us all that.“ faith, “ which worketh by love,” that “ by works our
may be made perfect;" as the grafted tree is in its most perfect state, when every branch is loaded with valuable fruit.'
*Gal. v, 6. James ii. 17-26.
ESSA Y XII.
When the apostle had reminded the Ephesians, that "they were saved by grace, through “faith ;" he added, " and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man " should boast." Hence we learn, that faith itself, the sole recipient of all the blessings of salvation, is the effect of a divine influence upon the soul; that all real good works are the effect of a new creation; and that it is the Lord's express design, by these means effectually to exclude boasting, “ that no flesh should glory in his pre
sence. This gracious operation of a divine power in changing the heart is represented in Scripture under several metaphors, of which Regenerațion, (or being “ born again,” “ born of God," and “ born of the Spirit,") is the most frequent and remarkable; and the present Essay will be appropriated to the discussion of this interesting subject.
Nicodemus, a Pharisee, a Scribe, and a member of the Jewish sanhedrim, came to our Lord by
Eph. ii. 8-10.
night: for, notwithstanding his conviction that Jesus was a Teacher sent from God, he was probably afraid or ashamed of being known to consult him, concerning the doctrine that he came to inculcate. The state of his mind accorded to the darkness which prevailed at the season of this interview; and he seems to have expected some instructions coincident with the traditions of the Pharisees, and their ideas of religion and of the Messiah's kingdom, which they supposed to consist in external forms and advantages. But our Lord, with a two-fold most solemn asseveration, used by none besides himself, and by him only on the most important occasions, abruptly assured him, that “Except a man were born again, he “could not see the kingdom of God;” or discern its real nature and excellency. And, when Nicodemus expressed his astonishment at this assertion, in language aptly illustrating the apostle's meaning, where he says “ The things of the spirit of God
foolishness to the natural man ;'” our Lord answered with the same solemnity, that “ Except “a man were born of water and of the Spirit, he “could not enter into the kingdom of God.” Water had been used in divers ways, as an external emblem of internal purification; and the use of it was to be continued, in the ordinance of baptism, under the new dispensation: it was therefore proper to mention it as the outward sign of that
1 1 Cor. ii. 14.