« PreviousContinue »
shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, SHALL FIND MERCY." His repentance shall not purchase it; his repentance does not deserve it. Repentance bas no intrinsic efficacy. It cannot entitle to pardon. It is not THE SAVIOR; though without it we cannot be saved. God delights to forgive; He does forgive, though it cost the blood of His Son. No sooner does the rebel loathe and abhor himself, than God passes by his transgressions, and ceases to retain his anger. “He rejoices over him with joy; he rests in his love; he will joy over him with singing." To forgive a helldeserving sinner; to receive a rebel into favor; to wash away his deep-stained guilt, and become the everlasting friend of the friendless; is the highest exercise of perfect benevolence. O how gratifying to the benevolent heart of God, to behold the returning prodigal, though a great way off? His compassions yearn over him. He longs to receive bim into His arms. He is impatient to press him to His bosom. “He runs; He falls upon his neck, and kisses him."
The first glimmering of light that dawned upon the darkness of the fall, was ushered in by an obscure revelation of the covenant
of grace. This covenant was faintly exhibited to Adam and Eve, in the denunciation of the curse upon the tempter. It was made known more clearly to Noah after the flood. It was renewed with Abraham, after God had called him from Urr of the Chaldees; with Isaac, in Gerar; with Jacob at Bethel, and with the generation of Israel, in the wilderness. The light of truth rose gradually, and the covenant of grace gradually unfolded its blessings, till the Star of Bethlehem pointed to the Sun of Righteousness, and the promise of the covenant was sealed by the blood of its Surety.
There is an important distinction between the covenant of redemption, and the covenant of grace.* The period of their formation,
* It is unhappy, that there should be a difference in the mode of representing this subject among divines that are reputed orthodox. Ühe view which is given of it by an eminent divine of the Presbyterian Church, may not be unimportant in this place and day.
“There seems to be mention made in Scripture of a covenant or agreement between the Father and the Son. This, the generality of Calvinist divines consider as a separate, or preparatory contract, and call it the covenant of redemption. Some, however, especially those who have been termed ANTINOMIANS, consider this as properly the covenant of grace, made with Christ the second Adam, as representing his spiritual seed; and the covenant said to be made with believers, to be only the execution or adroinistration of that covenant, and therefore called a testament, being the fruits of Christ's death, or ratified by the death of the tes. tator.” Witherspoon's Introductory Lectures on Divinity.
This distinction cannot be considered as an invention of the New School. It will be found expressly recognized by Van Mastricht, and I think, clearly, implied by Turretin. Vid. Theoretico-Practica Theologia, Auctore, Petro Van Mastricht. lib. quint. cap. prim. de Fædere Gratie, amb Institutio Theologiæ, Francisco Turretino, locus duodeci. mus. Questio secunda.
the parties, the terms of these several cove-, nants, are perfectly distinct.
The covenant of redemption was formed from eternity; the covenant of grace, in time. The covenant of redemption was antecedently necessary to the existence of the covenant, of grace. It was the perfect accomplishment of that arduous part which the Redeemer engaged to bear in the covenant of redemption, that laid the foundation for the covenant of grace. It was this, that justified God in entering into covenant with believers, and in engaging to save them through faith in the blood of Jesus.
The covenant of redemption subsists between the sacred persons in the ever-blessed Trinity, of which the atonement of Christ for the sins of the world is the stipulation, and the salvation of bis chosen seed, the pronise. The covenant of grace subsists between God and believers, of which, faith in Christ is the stipulation, and the salvation of helievers the promise.
The covenant of grace, therefore, in distinction froin the covenant of redemption, is nothing more nor less, than the promise of God to save all those who believe in Jesus Christ. The law of God is not now the rule of justification, though it is the rule of duty. We no longer hear the righteous demand, of that broken covenant, This do, and thou shalt live; but the milder language of gracious economy, BELIEVE, and thou shalt be saved. Of this covenant, Faith in Christ is that part
which is fulfilled by the believer. He believes; and upon the principles of this covenant, the first act of faith gives him an humble claim to the promise.
Every Christian grace is the effect of the immediate agency, and the Almighty power of God upon the heart. Faith is expressly declared by the Apostle to be the gift of God, though it is at the same time the act of the creature. It is uniformly represented as of the operation of God. It is one of the fruits
Every Christian grace is the gift of God, and at the same time, the set of the creature. The dependance and the activity of man, are perfectly reconcileable. God worketh in man; but He worketh in him both to Will, and to do. In the day of God's power, his people are made WILLING. The enmity of the heart is slain, and they are made willing to do what they were able to do before.
From the note on the 29th page of this volume, the reader will perceive that the author is aware of some difference in the mode of representing this subject, by die vines that profess to be equally attached to the great doetrines of grace. But for protracting that note, he should then have exhibited the views of a number of men of deserved eminence, substantiating the remarks which were there made. Such an exhibition, it is hoped, will soften down some of the prejudices of plain Christians, if it does not blunt the edge of opposition on the part of those who are persevering adherents to the doctrine of man's natural inability
If any one will take the trouble to turn to Scott's Family Bible, he will find the following sentiment in his remarks op Rom. viü, 7, 8. Because the carnal mind is enmity, &c.
"This carnal mind is not subjest to the divine law, and indeed cannot be 80; it is MORALLY UNABLE to do any thing but rebel against it, and refuse obedience to it.”
The observations of the same author on John vi, 44. No man can come, &c. are of the same import.
“The ground of this impossibility lies in the contrariety which subsists between the proud, worldly, unholy, rebel. lious, and ungodly nature of fallen man, and the huinbling;
of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, long-suffering, gentleness, good. spiritual, holy nature of the gospel. The gospel finds none willing to be saved,” &c.*
Let the reader also advert to President Wicherspoon's Essay on Justification. In vol. i. and page 53 of his Works, he will find the following paragraph.
“Since mention has been made of perfect conformity to the will of God, or perfest obedience to his law, as the duty of inan, which is indeed the foundation of this whole doc. trine," (that is, the doctrine of Justification,)."I think it necessary to observe, that some deny this to be properly required of man as his duty in the present. fallen state because He is not able to perform it. But such do not seem to attend either to the meaning of perfect obedience, or the nature or cause of this inability. Perfect obedience is obedience by any creature, to the utmost extent of his na. tural powers.. Éven in a state of innocence, the holy dispositions of Adanı would not have been equal in strength and activity to those of creatures of an higher rank; but surely to love God who is infinitely amiable, with all the heart, and above all, to consecrate all his powers and faculties without exception, and without intermission to God's service, must be undeniably the duty of every intelligeat creature. And what sort of inability, are we under to pay this? Our natura faculties are surely as fit for the service of God, as for any baser purpose, -THE INABILITY IS ONLI MORAL, and, lies wholly IN THE AVERSION OF OUR HEARTS from such employment. Does this then take away the guilt? Must God relax his law because we are not willing to obey it?"
The same great man, in a sermon on the "absolute ne. sessity of salvation by Christ,” has also a sentence which is full of meaning: "For I hope NO CHRISTIAN will assert, that any person in the world who hath.the exercise of reason, is under a natural, but ouly a moral impossibility of coming to the knowledge, and doing the will of God. If the first were the case, it would TAKE AWAY ALL SIN; but the last is such an obstinate disinclination, as is still consistent with guilt and blame. Vid. Witherspoon's Works, vol. ü. p. 357. Philadelphia edition.
*. In regard to the controversy between Marshall and Bellamy, concerning the nature of faith, Scott is most de. cidedly in favor of Bellamy's view of the subject. Vida Scott's Theological Warka, vol, 4th, p. 248, 249, 250.