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I thought I had fully obviated this objection in one of my former letters to you, wherein I endeavoured to set before you the Apostle's scope and design in his Epistle to the Romans, especially in the seventh chapter; and if you will review that letter with proper attention, I think you will find sufficient matter of satisfaction. It is strange that any man who has ever read that Epistle to the Romans, wherein the case before us is so distinctly considered, can espouse such a trifling pretence as this to me most evidently is. The Apostle there speaks of a law by. which the doers (supposing there were any) shall be justified before God, chap. ii. 13.; of a law, which the Gentiles may (in part, at least) discover by the light of nature, and thereby be in some measure a law to themselves, ver. 14. But can any man pretend that we could be justified before God by an observance of the ceremonial law? or that the Gentiles, without revelation, could have understood the ceremonial law so as to have been a law to themselves ? The Apostle is there treating of a law by which both Jews and Gentiles are allunder sin, and by which they had the knowledge of sin, chap. iii. 9, 20. and vii. 7. But could the Gentiles be under sin, or have the knowledge of sin by the ceremonial law, which was no law to them? How then could they be capable of any transgression, of it? The Apostle there treats of a law whereby
every mouth shall be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God;" and a law which is established by faith, chap. iii. 19, 31.: neither of which can,
in any sense, be true of the ceremonial law. The Apostle instances in moral precepts, as
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. I may 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 worketh wrath,” chap. iv. 15. And a law by which "we 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." Iu 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
posing, affords no principle of new obedience, allows no foundation for a comfortable progress in the divine life. Here is no certainty of forgiveness to be obtained; and therefore no delightful incentive to the mortification of our lusts and corruptions. Upon this plan, we are in perpetual danger of the curse of the law, on account of our defects; and there is therefore no room for that pleasure which would otherwise be found in running the way of God's commands. Here can be no assured confidence in the divine assistance or acceptance, no absolute affiance in the riches of God's free grace in Christ; and therefore nothing to melt the heart and conscience into love and subjection; nothing to inflame our affections, and fill us with gratitude to God for blessing us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ Jesus; nothing to excite us to live to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. ciples of the scheme you propose are slavish, and the obedience must be of the same kind with the principles from whence it flows; and consequently, we must be utter strangers to that love, delight, and satisfaction, which children might find in the service of their heavenly Father, so long as our obedience is thus excited from fear and constraint; or at best only from such uncertain hopes as wholly depend upon our own righteousness, as the condition of acceptance. Blessed be God, the Gospel teaches us a more pleasant and delightful religion, the service of love, and the obedience of faith, which is truly its own reward.
And now, Sir, suffer me something freely to ex
66 He was
any sense what
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. 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 soever, 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 ? Upon the 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
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
any these purposes, unless, upon our receiving bim by faith, these benefits are with him freely given us,