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belonging to the law which he treats of, chap. ii. 21, 22. and vii. 7. The Apostle exemplifies the works of the law of which he treats in the case of Abraham, chap. iv. who lived hundreds of years before the exhibition of the ceremonial law; and therefore they could not be the works of the ceremonial law that are there opposed to faith. add, the Apostle treats of a law to which the believing Romans had been married, chap. vii. 4. “A law, the righteousness of which must be fulfilled in us,” chap. viii. 4. A law, according to which, “the man that doth these things shall live by them,” chap. x. 5. “ A law, which, if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of, his uncircumcision shall be counted for circumcision," chap. ii. 26. “ A law which work. eth wrath,” chap. iv. 15. And a law by which “ are under the curse for sin." None of which characters are properly applicable to the ceremonial law. Upon the whole, then, it is evident, even to demonstration, that it is the moral law of which he concludes " that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law;" that "a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ;” and “if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." In a word, all dependence for justification upon any works, either of the ceremonial or moral law, is directly opposite to the
grace of the Gospel, and to the way of salvation by the faith of Jesus Christ.
But you tell me, that, “if it be allowed to be the works of the moral law to which the Apostle refers, it must imply an apprehension and vain imagination of a perfect conformity to that law. And that the
Apostle only condemned the hope of those who imagined that they had merited salvation, by their perfect obedience to the moral law.”
This (if possible) is a more trifling pretence than the former, for which there is not the least shadow of a foundation. The Jews and Judaizing Christians knew themselves to be sinners. They had the Bible, which every where taught them their imperfect and sinful state. Their continual expiatory sacrifices, their laying their sins upon the head of the scape-goat, their annual confessing themselves sinners on the day of atonement, with all their legal purifications, were continual monitors to them of the imperfection of their obedience. And as this was the case of the Jews, we may more strongly conclude that the Gentiles, newly converted from their devil-worship, could make no such pretence. So that had the Apostle only disputed against this pretence, he had only contended with his own shadow. He condemns our dependence upon the works of the law; and is not our imperfect obedience as truly the works of the law as perfect obedience could be ? Can it be supposed that depending upon perfect obedience, which fulfils the law, will condemn us; but that to depend upon imperfect obedience, which does not fulfil the law, will not condemn us in the sight of God?
Indeed, Sir, I cannot but compassionate the case of those men, who, by so many artful shifts and evasions, are putting some gloss or other upon such numerous, clear, and plain texts of Scripture, to make them consistent with their beloved schemes ; and perhaps to keep their consciencés easy, in a de
pendence upon their own obedience for their justification. But I have been too long upon this head. I must therefore more briefly mention some other just prejudices against this scheme.
Another exception, then, to this scheme is, that it is inconsistent with, and repugnant to, the various representations, which the Scriptures give us of the redemption by Christ, and of the method in which our salvation is wrought out by him. “He was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” “He his own self bare our sins, in his own body, on the tree.” Now, how can it, in any sense whatsoever, be possibly true that our Lord Jesus Christ was made sin for us, unless it be understood in the imputative sense? Or, that he bare our sins in his own body, if he only undertook to purchase for us a grant of pardon and reconciliation with God, upon the condition of our sincere obedience, and unless our sins were imputed to him ? He is likewise said to give his life a ransom for us.” And can prisoners be said to be ransomed out of their enemy's hands, who are only put under advantages to work out their own liberty and deliverance ? payment of a ransom, the consenting captive is immediately released; and, as the prophet expresses it, with respect to the case before us, “ liberty is proclaimed to the captives.” He is moreover represented as an atonement for our sins, and an atonement which believers have actually received: “ By whom we have received the atonement."
And can divine justice be atoned for our sins, and we not freely acquitted and justified? Can we have received the
le HE of
atonement by faith when it yet depends upon our future conduct, and upon our sincere obedience, whether we shall ever receive the benefit of it ? He is also represented as having “ redeemed us - from the curse of the law, being made a eurse for
And how can it with any propriety be said, that believers are actually redeemed from the curse when they are still under the curse, and must continue so until, by a course of sincere persevering obedience, they get themselves acquitted and justified ? Or how could our blessed Saviour be made a curse for us, when neither our guilt was imputed to him, nor his sufferings were imputed to us. He might, indeed, upon this supposition, be said to suffer for our advantage and benefit: but he could not be made a curse for us, in our stead, when no curse due to us was laid upon him ; nor we freed from
any curse by his sufferings, without procuring our deliverance by our own sincere persevering obedience. He is likewise represented as our surety, “a surety of a better testament.' And has the surety paid the debt, but the bond not cancelled, nor the debtor released from payment? Does divine justice demand the payment of the debt in order to satisfaction, and the performance of the conditions in order to our justification, of both the surety and the principal debtor ?
He is moreover represented as "the Lord our righteousness ;” and is said “to be made of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” “He is our peace.” But I know not how Christ can be ours for
of these purposes, unless, upon our receiving bim by faith, these benefits are with him freely given us,
actually imputed or imparted to us, and we considered as vested with them, and partakers of them. For instance, can Christ be our righteousness, and we, notwithstanding, have no righteousness that will justify us before God, till we have wrought out a righteousness of our own, by a persevering course of sincere obedience ? Can he be our peace, and we not be at peace with God upon our faith in him, until, by a course of sincere obedience, we are justified and interested in the divine favour? The time would fail me should I particularly insist upon all the various representations of Christ's redemption in Scripture, and show they are all directly repugnant to this scheme of yours.
I shall therefore mention but an instance or two more, and then submit it to your own serious reflection. We
e are said "s to be justified by his blood, and reconciled to God by his death.” But can we be justified by his blood, and yet justified by our own obedience? Are we reconciled to God by the death of Christ, and yet not reconciled to God but by a continued progress of our own obedience ? Dare you, Sir, adventure to attribute that to your own obedience, which is attributed by the Spirit of God to the blood and death of Christ?
But perhaps you will make the same remarks upon what I have now offered, as you did upon my last, and tell me, that “ your author does indeed suppose some conditions of our interest in the benefits procured by Christ for us; and do not they, who are of the other side of the question, also suppose our interest therein to be conditional ?
Do not they suppose faith to be the condition of our