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385. From all these Considerations, it seems very clear to me, That the Justification the Apostle is contending for, in the five first Chapters of this Epistle, is the Calling of the Gentiles, and their being admitted, upon Faith, in to the peculiar Family and Kingdom of God. And we need not wonder he has so much laboured this Point, if we consider ; That this Salvation of the Heathen World, or the bringing the Gentiles into the Church, made a glorious Figure in the Promises and Prophecies of the Old Testament, how low loover our Sense of it may now run.- Besides, it was the grand Article in the Apostle's Commission, and the great Point in which he was opposed by the Jews. It was here they laboured to unsettle the Gentile Converts, and to demolith all that the Apostle had built up, by his Preaching. Therefore the Right of the believing Gentile to a Place in the Church, and an Interest in the special Covenant of God, was the first and principal Thing the Apostle had to establish ; which if it were not true, both his Ministry and his Gospel, as well as our Faith and Hope, must come to the Ground.
386. And that the Admission of the Gentiles into the Church and Covenant of God should be expressed by being justified *, will not seem
strange, when we consider ; that it is expressed by other Terms, which ... are full as strong as this. For instance; it is expressed by being saved.
Rom. X. 1, “ My Heart's Desire and Prayer to God for (unbelieving] Israel is that they might be saved.” xi. 26, “ And so all Israel (who are now in Unbelief] lhall be saved." i Ther, ii. 16, The Jews “forbid us to speak to the Gentiles ihat they might be saved.” It is also expressed by obtaining Mercy, Rom. xi. 30. 1 Pet. ii. 10. Whence we may conclude, chat being justified is not too strong an Expression, when righily understood, to denote our being taken into the visible Church and Kingdom of God. 387. And indeed it was in itself a great Deliverance and Salvation ;
to Faith ; and Faith must have a Being before they were produced ; 6 and [by the Addition of Works to Faith) the Scripture was fulfilled, sor had its full and compleat Sense], which faith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for Righteousness.” Ver. 23, The Apostle James manifestly speaks of Works
consequent to Faith, or of such Works as are the Fruit and Product of 2. Faith. Whereas St. Paul, Rom. ii. 20—29, speaks of, and rejects, Works
confidered as antecedent to Faith [ 380). According to St. Paul, Abraham's i Juftification refers to his State before he believed; or when he was
47=6ns, ungodly, Rom, iv. 5. According to St. James, to his State after he believed ; or when Faith wrought with his Works. But Justification, or. Salvation, by Works, after a Man believes ; by Works produced by Faith, is full or final Justification. And of this he speaks, when he faith, Ver. 14, that “ Faith without Works cannot save a Man;" that is, cannot save nim finally. And St. Paul argues as ftrenuously as James, or any of the ApoAtles, for Works consequent to Faith ; or, for a Life of Piety and Virtue, as ablolutely necessary to full and final Justification, or Salvation; as appears From all his Writings ; especially Rom. vi. and Heb. xi. Thus St. James and Paul are truly and perfectly reconciled. - Possibly the Apostle chose the Term Righteousness, or Juftification, and confequently Justify, to signify our Title to the Blessings of the Covenant, be
sahile it is the very Word by which the Grant of Pardon, and of Covenant to Biellings, is fignified to Abraham, Gen. xv. 6.
ed, tavaftance of finally andnd being
confidering how obnoxious the Gentile World was to the Wrath of God. This Mercy the old World, exceeding corrupt and wicked, did pot obtain ; but were all cut off by the Flood of Waters. And our being preserved from a like Destruction, and being put into a State of Pardon, and a Capacity of being finally and for ever fared, ought to be regarded as a great Instance of God's Grace and Goodness. The Sense of being justified, saved, and not destroyed, but taken into the Bosom of God's Love, would stand more clear and full before the Thoughts of those, who had been immersed in all the Darknefs, Eitor and Hicked. ness of an Idolatrous State ; and were then turned to the Light and glorious Privileges of the Gospel. And indeed, this inestimable Benefit of Pardon and Salvation, whereby the World is preserved from Wrath, and Nill enjoys the great Advantages and Blessings of the Gospel, would much more affect our Hearts, even at this Time, and engage our Atten. tion, were it nor for the following Causes.
388. (1.) The Wickedness of the Christian World, which rendersi it so much like that of the Heathen *, that the good Effects of our Change to Christianity, or of our being the People and Children of God, are but little seen; and therefore the Grace, which grants us the Privileges and Blessings we abuse, is but little regarded and valued.
389. (2.) Wrong Representations of the Scheme of the Gospel have grea ly obscured the Glory of Divine Grace, and contributed much to the Corruption of its Professors. For, not only have very gross Absurdities been introduced into the Gospel Scheme, which have 1 prejudiced great Numbers against it, and confounded the Understandings of the Generality, who have embraced it; but such Doctrines have been, almost universally, taught and received, as quite subvert it. Miltaken Notions about Nature and Grace, Election and Reprobation, Juftif. cation, Regeneration, Redemption, Calling, Adoption, &c. have quite taken away the very Ground of the Chriltian Life, the Grace of God, and have left no Object for the Faith of a Sinner to work upoo. ( 268, 269.] I For fuch Doctrines have represented the Things, which are fre?ly I given to us of God, as uncertain ; as the Result of our Obedience ; or the Effect of some arbitrary, fortuitous Operations, ard the Subject of doubtful Enquiry, Trial, and Examination of ourselves : As, whether we “ have an Interest in Christ,” whether we are “in a State of Pardua, delivered from the Power of Darkness, and translated into the Kingdom of God's Son;" whether we he “ called into the Fellowship of his Son, whether we “ have. obtained Redemption by him,” and “ have a Promile left us of entering into his Reft;" whether we be “elected, adopted,” &c. All which Things are the free Gift of God's Grace; and therefore are not the Subject of Self Examination; but of Praise and Thanksgiving. The proper Subject of the Christian's Self-Examination is; whether he lives agreeably to
been, almofts about Nature amprion, Calli
* As God in his righteous Judgment gave up the Gentile World to core rupt and dishonour themselves; because they had abused their Understanding, and corrupted the Religion of Nature: So in like Manner, God has given up the Christian World to corrupt and debase themselves by the vileft Aficions, Principles and Practices; because they also have shamefully abuted their las de: standing, and have corrupted, in a Legree very atonishing the Chi Revelation.
those great Favours conferred upon him by the Divine Grace. But those Favours have been represented as uncertain; as the Result of our Obedience or Holiness; and as the Subject of Self Examination. This is to make our Justification, as it invests us in those Blessings, to be of Works, and not by Faith alone. Thus the very Ground of the Christian Life, the Grace of God, is taken away, and no Object left for the Faith of a Sioner to act upon.,
390. (3.) The Christian Church, chiefly through Ambition and worldly Views, has, for many Ages, been broke into various Sects and Factions, diftinguished by some peculiar Opinions, or Modes of Wor ship; which have been made the Tests and Terms of Admission into particular Churches. And the Zeal and Thoughts of Christians have been so much imployed about these party Tests and Terms of Communion, that they have lost Sight of the only Condition of a Right to a Place in the Church, which Christ and his Apostles established ; namely, that professed Faith in Chrift, upon which the first converts
were baptised, and of the Advantages and Privileges thence resulting. ... Instead of attending to what the Apostles have taught, concerning our
common Justification, and Admissions to the Blessings of the Kingdom and Covenant of God, they have been busy in supporting with great Zeal their various Pretences and Peculiarities. Hence have arisen the bitterest Animosities and Quarrels. And thus the Minds of Men have
been so far led astray from the pure, simple Doctrine of the Gospel, that is it would, probably, have been wholly lost to the World, had not e the good Providence of God preserved the Writings of the New TestaDe ment, as a Mean and Standard of Reformation. Which Writings the
more we Rudy with Care and Impartiality, the more we fhall discera
the Truth and Glory of the Christian Scheme ; and, if we are wise to 1 submit our Hearts to its Influences, it will be an infallible Guide to eter
gal Life. Amen.
AS I was born of parents, who bear the Christian Name, and A w as instructed by them from my earliest infancy in the principles and duties. of Christianity, though this in itself is no reason why I should believe and submit to it; yet I think in gratitude to them for their care in my education, and from the deference I owe to their natural authority over me, I am bound to examine the Religion in which they have brought me up, that I may know whether it be code sistent with the truth and reason of things, and consequently worthy my acceptation and belief.
I am, indeed, abundantly persuaded, that religion ought to be my own free and rational choice, and that conviction, and not humao 20. thority, must be the rule of my judgment concerning it; and as I was directed by my parents to examine and judge for my self, and find the Christian Religion in particular appealing to the reason and consciences of mankind, I have endeavoured to make the most impartial enquiry I am capable of, and upon the strictest examination.
I. The reason of my mind tells me, that there is a God, i. e. 21 eternal, ali-perfect Being, the original cause and preserver of all things, the great author of all the relations and dependences of things upon each other, the creator, proprietor, and therefore natural lord and go. vernour of all the reasonable creation.
From hence it follows, that all creatures who are capable of voder, standing their derivation from him, their dependance on him, and
heir relation to him, are indispensably and necessarily obliged to pay him those acknowledgments and services, which relult from, and are uitable and proper to their respective circumstances and conditions.. .
And by consequence religion, i. e. the worship and service of God, Es the necessary duty of every reasonable creature, and ought to be maintained and kept up in the world ; and every man in particular is bound to make choice of that religion, which appears to him most consonant to reason, and to carry in it the most evident marks of its being from God, and most agreeable to his nature and will.
II. As I find that religion is the necessary duty of every reasonable creature, I am farther convinced of my obligation to make use of all the helps I can, to understand wherein the nature of it doth consist, And upon enquiry, I can think of but two ways by which I can come to the knowledge of it; and these are either the dictates of my own mind, and reason, or some informations, discoveries and revelations from God, the great object of my religious worship.
The reason of my mind is that which renders me capable of dis. cerning what is fit and unfit in disposition and behaviour; and from hence I derive the notion, and infer the reality of moral obligation: and when I farther consider the first independent mind as the author of these relations, and fitnesses which arise from them, I am convinced that it is his will that I should act suitable to them, and that I offend when I do not; and from hence I infer the certainty of religious obligation. And since this moral and religious obligation owes its rise only to my reflections upon the nature of man, and the relation I stand in to God and other beings, this is properly natural religion, or the religion of Nature.
Now tho' the religion of Nature be prior to and distinct from revealed religion, and gives the characters, by which we are to judge of the truth of revelation ; yet the insufficiency of it, and therefore the expediency of a divine revelation, to lead men into a due knowledge of the principles, duties, and advantages of religion, appears;
From that gross ignorance of God, and duty, which sprung from the general corruption and degeneracy of mankind; which rendered it highly improbable that any one in such circumstances should arise, who should be able to make the necessary discoveries of God and his perfections, and with clearness and folidity to reprelent men's obligations in their proper extent and compass; at least not without thole mixtures of weakness and superstition, which might occasion the vicious and prejudiced to disregard his instructions, and thus abate the general luc
cels of them. ; But if we could suppose his doctrines to be pure and unmixed, it is
not probable, they would have a general or indeed any considerable influence over the strong byass that vice universally practised had given to men, without the marks of a proper authority to awaken them to consideration ; especially as those docirines could not but vint the mo. tives and encouragements proportionate to such an effect.
'Tis indeed probable, that in such a situation men might be led to iee, that by acting contrary to the reason and fitness of things they had offended the first and most perfect mind; the natural confe
ols ignord degeneracyh circun