Page images
PDF
EPUB

to him.

Besides, as there can be no sincere obedience antecedent to our interest in Christ and union to him, it hence appears, that our sincere obedience must necessarily be the consequence of our justification, and therefore cannot be the condition of it. I think every body will allow that man to be in a justified state, who is interested in Christ and united

Now, our Lord himself assures us, that we cannot bring forth the fruits of new obedience, till we are united to him. “ Abide in me, and I in you.

As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing;” or, as it may be rendered, - severed from me ye can bear none,” can bring forth no fruit at all. There cannot be a greater solecism than to speak of a sincerely obedient Christless sinner; and, therefore, there cannot be a greater inconsistency than for that to be the condition of our justification which is the fruit and effect of our interest in Christ, and so the consequence of our justified state.

These, Sir, are some of the many inconveniencies that attend this your scheme; which, one would think, should awaken your attention, and make you look well about

you,
before

you venture your eternal interest upon such an unscriptural and inconsistent foundation..

I proceed now to offer some objections against the doctrine you propose.

And here one obvious exception against this doctrine is, that it perverts the Gospel of the grace of God, and makes it pro

was

this:

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

perly and strictly a covenant of works.

The condition of the covenant of works man that doth these things shall live by them." And the condition of our justification, according to this new scheme, is this, the man that doth these things (that is, that performs sincere obedience to this new law of grace) shall live by them.

Where, then, is the difference between the old covenant of works and this new imaginary law of grace? What gave denomination to the covenant of works was, that it required. works or obedience as the condition of it.

And does not this pretended new law of grace require works, or obedience, as a covenantcondition; and does it not, therefore, deserve the denomination of a covenant of works as much as the other? If we run a parallel between the first covenant and this new law of grace, they will be found in all things to agree as a covenant of works. Thus, the old covenant of works was a law with sanctions, requiring obedience as the matter of that righteousness by which man was to be justified. And this imaginary new covenant is likewise styled a law of grace, which requires sincere obedience as the condition of our justification. Justification, according to the tenor of the old covenant of works, was of debt; and thus it is likewise, according to the tenor of this pretended new law of grace. An obligation to give a reward for service performed, makes it a debt

upon the service being performed; and it can be claimed, as such, whatever proportion there is between the reward and the service by which it becomes due. The old covenant of works, although it exacted obedience, yet gave no new strength for

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the performance of it, and thus it is likewise in the present case. For unless we are united to Christ, and interested in his righteousness, we can have no security of new supplies of grace and strength as we need them. Whatever pretences to gracious assistance the patrons of this new law of grace may make, they do not pretend, that God has by covenant secured to us fresh supplies of grace for persevering obedience. According to the tenor of the old covenant of works, justification was suspended, forfeited, and lost, upon the non-performanee of the required obedience; and just thus it is likewise according to the tenor of this pretended new law of grace. I must therefore again demand, wherein this new law does any way differ from a proper covenant of works?

If it be pretended that the conditions of this new covenant are much easier than the conditions of the old covenant of works, which required perfect, and this but imperfect obedience, as the term of our acceptance with God; I answer, This supposal would nothing alter the general nature of the covenant. Works are works, obedience is obedience, whether perfect or imperfect. The condition of each covenant is works; and works come into the very formal nature of each, as they are covenants. And, therefore, how the one can be either more or less a covenant of works than the other, I know not. Besides, it is a great mistake to suppose that the conditions of this imaginary new law, or covenant, are easier than the conditions of the old covenant of works. The case is much otherwise. He with whom the first covenant was made, had sufficient

power and ability to fulfil all its conditions, and fully to come up to all its demands.

But fallen creatures are utterly incapable to perform sincere, though imperfect obedience: they have naturally no sincerity, no truth in the inward parts, no principle of new obedience; nor does this pretended covenant supply them with any, as before observed; and, therefore, whatever pretences are made that these conditions are easier, they are indeed rather harder to be complied with than the conditions of the first covevant. It is more difficult for a man without legs to walk, than for a perfect, vigorous, lively man to run.

If it be further pretended that this new law of grace differs from the covenant of works, in that faith is, according to this scheme, made the principal condition of the new covenant; this is but an empty pretence.

For faith is here considered but as an act of obedience, and as being seminally, or virtually, all evangelical obedience, including the same in the nature of it; so that this faith is nothing else but a constitutive part and active principle of the works required, and not distinct from them in the office of justifying. And was not Adam as much obliged, by the covenant of works, to act faith in the conditional promise of life, and to subject himself to the authority of the Legislator, as we can be by this new law of grace? Let the case, therefore, be looked upon in any view, in every view; and this pretended new law, or covenant, of mild and favourable terms, will be found to be as truly a covenant of works, as the first covenant made with Adam. There will indeed appear some circumstantial differences between that covenant and

this. For instance, that covenant was appointed and enjoined by God as a sovereign: whereas this, as is pretended, was purchased by the blood of Christ, and is the law of a Mediator.

That covenant admitted no renovation when violated; but this leaves room for recovery, upon condition of repentance and future obedience, to such transgressors as do not happen to die in the sad interval of unbelief and insincerity. And that covenant required perfect, this accepts of imperfect, obedience. But these things are only circumstances, and enter not into the nature of a covenant-condition. From whatever inducement God was pleased to propose these conditions—whatever be the consequence of their violation-and whatever degree of obedience be required in order to our justification--yet, according to this new divinity, sincere persevering obedience is the stated condition of each of these covenants. This, and this only, was what rendered the first covenant a covenant of works; and, therefore, when all the pretences are made that can be made, the second covenant, upon this scheme, is as strictly and properly a covenant of works as the first was.

You seem to be aware of this consequence; and therefore demand of me, “ Why it may not be supposed agreeable to the divine perfections, to require of man a life of obedience now, proportioned to his present abilities, as the condition of his justification, as well as to make with him a covenant of works at first, proportioned to his primitive powers and capacities ?”. To which I answer:

I have already shown you, that it is impossible that any covenant requiring sincere obedience as the

« PreviousContinue »