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must also be allowed, that the whole world of mankind are either the children of God or the children of the devil. This distribution divides the whole human race.
Now, then, if we are the children of God, we are already in a justified state, and therefore cannot depend upon our 'sincere obedience for our justification : but if the children of the devil, we cannot be holy, whatever pretences to sincere obedience we may make. An unjustified child of God, or a holy child of the devil, are each of them the greatest solecism that can be thought of. We become children of God by the same means by which we are justified. “ We are justified by faith." And os
we are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” . But all they who have not this faith, and are not thereby become the children of God, and justified in his sight, are so blinded by the god of this world, that they are utterly incapable, in their present state, of a life of true holiness. of this world bath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
I may add to this, that the natural disposition of every one, while without an interest in Christ and in an unjustified state, is utterly repugnant to, and inconsistent with, a life of holiness. The character and state of all such is, that they are servants of sin, and free from righteousness.” They are “dead in trespasses and sins.” They are " after the flesh, and mind the things of the flesh.”. Their “ carnal mind is enmity to God; and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” This is the
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case of every man while in a natural state; a case which can never be remedied, till " the law of the Spirit of life, in Christ Jesus, make us free from the law of sin and death.” And I even appeal to yourself to determine, whether life and death, light and darkness, God and Belial, cannot as well be reconciled, as these characters made consistent with a life of holiness. It is therefore evident, that we can have no sincere obedience until we are justified; and that we cannot live a holy life, while we depend upon sincere obedience for our justification.
I will only subjoin, that we may not expect the renewing and sanctifying influences of the Spirit of Christ, while we depend upon our own sincere obedience for justification. He has indeed made us gracious promises, that if we receive him, we shall have the privilege to become the children of God; and if we trust in him, we shall never be ashamed. But we must expect no better than to “ follow after the law of righteousness, and not attain to it, if we seek it not by faith, but, as it were, by the works of the law." I have already shown you, Christ did not undertake our redemption to the end that he might assist us in working out a righteousness of our own, for our justification; nor may we expect any saving grace from him, till we depend upon him alone to do all in us and for us. When he is made of God unto us righteousness, through faith, we may then, but not till then, expect from him the supply of the Spirit, for progressive sanctification and redemption. They may rejoice in Christ Jesus (and none but they) who have no confidence in the flesh. Look, Sir, through the whole Bible, and see if you
any works, by no obedience at all, as the condition of our justification and acceptance with God.
You have indeed undertaken to obviate all such arguments against your scheme, by pretending that, “ where works are ejected as having no hand in our justification, and as being inconsistent with the grace of the Gospel, it must be legal obedience which is there intended; whereas, the obedience pleaded for is evangelical. It is not supposed, that we are justified by obedience to the moral law, but by sincere obedience to the Gospel institution.”
But I entreat you to consider, that if we are indeed justified by sincere obedience to the Gospel, we must be justified by the works of the law, by obedience to the moral law, and therefore not by the faith of Christ, as revealed in the Gospel. This appears evident from such considerations as these. The moral law is the very rule and standard of all our obedience to God: if, therefore, we obtain justification by sincere obedience, we must obtain it by a conformity to the moral law, without which there can be no obedience at all, and therefore no sincere obedience. All the duty and obedience which we can owe to God, as rational creatures, is comprised in that comprehensive summary of the moral law, to 6 love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and strength; and to love our neighbour as ourselves;” and there neither is, nor can be, any obedience sincere and acceptable to God, but what flows from this principle of love, the source of all practical conformity to the moral law. Besides, the Gospel does not make void the law, as a rule of obedience, but establishes it: and therefore our justification, by
sincere obedience to the Gospel, is a justification by the deeds of the law, or by a conformity to it as the rule of life. It is no just objection against this, that there are some positive precepts in the Gospel which are not discoverable by the light of nature, nor directly required by the moral law: for, though these positive duties, such as receiving baptism and the Lord's Supper, and faith in Jesus Christ, the Mediator, considered as an act of obedience to a Gospel command, be not directly required; yet they are, by necessary consequence, enjoined in that fundamental statute of the moral law, “ Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Moreover our Lord Jesus Christ wrought out the work of redemption for us, “ that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us,” If, therefore, he wrought out our redemption in order to procure justification for us on the condition of sincere obedience, then our sincere obedience is a fulfilling the righteousness of the law in us; for it can no other way be fulfilled in us, upon that supposition. This, then, I think, is a plain case, that we must, upon this scheme, be justified by the works of the law, by a personal conformity to it, and by our own fulfilling the righteousness of it. Here is no place for your distinction of legal and evangelical obedience. All obedience is legal when performed from legal motives and to a legal end, as it is if performed in order to our obtaining justification and acceptance with God upon like conditions with those proposed in the moral law; which I have already shown to be the case before us, according to this scheme of a new law of
Here it will, therefore, be proper to pause a little, and consider, whether a depending upon such legal obedience for a claim to God's favour can be consistent with our salvation by the faith of Christ, as revealed in the Gospel. The Apostle is full and plain upon this head. 6. Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified in his sight. But now the righteousness without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets."
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore ? Because they sought it not by faith, but, as it were, by the works of the law.” “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law; but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." But you
have another answer to make to such texts as these, which are so strongly pointed against any dependence upon legal obedience. « There are some (you tell me) who plead, that the legal obedience, or the works of the law, which the Apostle opposes to the grace and faith of the Gospel, intends no more than a conformity to the ceremonial law: and, in that view of the case, those texts of Scripture, wherein such legality is condemned, are no-wise inconsistent with, or opposite to, the doctrine you are pleading for.”.