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P. has brought many proofs of the invitations of scripture being enforced on gospel principles. This is a matter I should never have thought of denying. But if an invitation to believe in Christ, enforced by gospel motives, will prove that faith is not a requirement of the moral law, then invitations to love God, to fear him, and to lie low before him, enforced in the same manner, will prove the same of them. Love, fear, and humility are enforced upon gospel principles, as well as faith in Christ. Things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and of which it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive, are prepared for them who love God. The exhortations to fear God are not more numerous than the promises of mercy to those who are of such a spirit. Men are exhorted to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, with the encouragement that he will lift them up. These are all gospel motives, yet P. will not deny that the dispositions enforced are requirements of the moral law. Even relative duties, such as those of husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, &c. which certainly are of a moral nature, are nevertheless enforced by gospel motives.
But "how can the gospel answer the end of recovering miserable men," it is asked, "if it contain new injunctions, equally impossible, if not more so, than the moral law itself, and these injunctions enforced by more awful punishments?" (93.) I might ask in return, how can the gospel have a tendency to
recover sinful men from their evil propensities, if it is a kind of law which requires only such exercises with which those propensities may consist? It can have no such tendency, unless tolerating an evil has a tendency to destroy it.
But is not the gospel adapted as a mean to recover lost sinners? Yes, it is. It exhibits the evil of sin by the cross of Christ in stronger colours than all the curses of the law could paint it; and so has a tendency, in the hand of the Holy Spirit, to convince the world of sin. Nor is this all; it exhibits a saviour to the guilty soul to keep him from despair, which at the same time tends to conquer his heart with a view of God's free and self-moved goodness. A person thus conquered would admire the free and sovereign grace of the gospel, but he would abhor the thought of a gospel that should make Jehovah stoop to the vile inclinations of his apostate creatures. His prayer would be, not," Incline thy testimonies to my heart, but my heart to thy testimonies."
But "could the gospel have a tendency to recover lost sinners if it contained new injunctions equally impossible, if not more so, than the moral law itself?" I own I think it could not. And who supposes it could? Surely P. must have here forgot himself. Does he not know that those are his own sentiments rather than mine, so far however as relates to the gospel containing new injunctions. I suppose the gospel, strictly speaking, to contain no injunctions at all, but merely the good tidings of salvation by
Jesus Christ; and that whatever precepts or injunctions are to be found respecting its being embraced, they are the diversified language of the moral law, which obliges men, as P. himself allows, to "embrace whatever God reveals." (89.)
Sometimes the word gospel is used in a large sense for the whole of the christian dispensation as contained in the New Testament, or the whole of that religion taught by Christ and his apostles, whether doctrinal or practical. In this use of the word we sometimes speak of the precepts of the gospel. But when the term gospel is used in a strict sense, it denotes merely the good news proclaimed to lost sinners through the mediation of Christ. In this view it stands opposed to the moral law, and in itself contains no injunctions at all. If the gospel were a new system of government taking place of the moral law, one should think there would be no farther need of the latter, whereas Christ in his sermon on the mount maintained its perpetuity, and largely explained and enforced its precepts. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.*
* Rom. iii. 31,
ON THE DEATH OF CHRIST.
THE extent of Christ's death is well known to have been a matter of great controversy. For my part, I cannot pretend to so much reading upon the subject as to be fully acquainted with the arguments used on either side. If I write any thing about it, it will be a few plain thoughts, chiefly the result of read. ing the sacred scriptures.
I think no one can imagine that I am under any obligation from the laws of controversy to follow P. into a long and laboured defence of the limited extent of Christ's death. All that can be reasonably thought incumbent upon me, is to tre of it so far as respects its consistency or inconsistency with indefinite invitations. On this score I might very well be excused from entering upon any defence of the subject itself, or answering the arguments advanced for the contrary. Whatever notice is taken of either, will be rather in compliance with what has been done by my opponent, than in conformity to the laws of disputation.
I suppose P. is not ignorant that Calvinists in general have considered the particularity of redemption as consisting not in the degree of Christ's sufferings, -as though he must have suffered more if more had
been finally saved, or in any insufficiency that attended them; but in the sovereign purpose and design of the Father and the Son, whereby they were constituted or appointed the price of redemption, the objects of that redemption ascertained, and the ends to be answered by the whole transaction determined. They suppose the sufferings of Christ, in themselves considered, are of infinite value, sufficient to have saved all the world, and a thousand worlds, if it had pleased God to have constituted them the price of their redemption, and made them effectual to that end. Farther, whatever difficulties there may appear in these subjects, they in general suppose that there is in the death of Christ a sufficient ground for indefinite calls, and universal invitations; and that there is no mockery or insincerity in the Holy One in any of these things.*
* "The obedience and sufferings of Christ, says WITSIUS, considered in themselves, are, on account of the infinite dignity of the person, of that value as to have been sufficient for redeeming not only all and every man in particular, but many my. riads besides, had it so pleased God and Christ that he should have undertaken and satisfied for them.” And again, “The obedience and sufferings of Christ are of such worth, that all without exception who come to him, may find perfect salvation in him: and it was the will of God that this truth should without distinction be proposed both to them that are to be saved, and to them that are to perish; with a charge not to neglect so great salvation, but to repair to Christ with true contrition of soul; and with a most sincere declaration that all who come to him shall find salvation in him. John vi. 40." Economy, vol. I. chap. IX. To the same purpose speaks PETER DU MOULIN in his Anato