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the law void; and hold themselves to be under no obligations to obey its precepts. In their view, the fact, that the doctrine of justification by faith makes void the law, is so far from being an objection to it, that it is an original part of the Evangelical system ; a thing, in itself proper, right, and good. The latter class bring this consequence as a direct, and formidable objection against the doctrine of justification by faith, from which, they suppose, the consequence certainly, and necessarily, flows. Were they right in this supposition, I cannot, I confess, answer the objection; nor should I know how, consistently with the Scriptures, to admit any doctrine, which renders the law of God useless, or in the least degree impairs its authority.
These two different modes of considering this subject, demand different answers. These I shall give under the following scheme: viz. that the doctrine of justification by faith lessens not in any degree, but establishes in the most effectual manner,
1. The Obligations, and,
Under the first of these heads, I shall direct my arguments against the Antinomian, and under the second, against the Arminian scheme concerning this subject.
I. This doctrine does not lessen, but establishes, the Obligations which mankind are under to obey the law of God.
In proof of this position, I observe,
By this I intend, that to love God with all the heart, and our neighbour as ourselves, is to love God, and our neighbour, in the very manner in which He loves both : that is, so far as creatures are capable of resembling their Creator. In other words, it is to be perfectly benevolent. Beloved, says the Apostle John, let us love one another: for love is of God: and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth noi, knoweth not God: for God is love. In this passage, St. John refers, as he does also in the 12th and 13th verses of the first chapter of his Gospel, to two observations of Christ: Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God: and this is life eternal ; that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. Every one that loveth, he here informs us, is thus born of God, and knows God, in such a sense as is life eternal. On the other hand, he further declares, that he who loveth not knows not God, in this sense. Hence it is plain, that he who is not the subject of this love, is not a child of God, nor an heir of eternal life. Of course, he is not the subject of justification, nor of the faith, to which it is annexed. Finally, St. John asserts, that God is love; or that love is his whole moral character, and essence. He, therefore, who is not the subject of this love, is not like God; has not the same moral character; or, in other words, is not renewed after the image of God.
Again; the Apostle observes, in the 16th verse, He who dwelleth, or continueth, in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. Of course, he who does not dwell, or continue, in love, does not dwell in God, nor God in him.
But love is the fulfilling of the law. To fulfil the law, then, is to be born of God, to know God, to dwell in God, and to have God dwell in us. Not to fulfil the law is, of course, to be destitute of all these characteristics, and blessings. Thus the law expresses to us, and requires in us, the very same moral character, which is the essence, and glory, of God. That such a law should cease from any part of its obligatory force is plainly impossible.
2dly. The law is a perfect rule of righteousness.
It is perfect, as it requires nothing but righteousness. To love God with all the heart, and our neighbour as ourselves, can never be in any degree, or manner, wrong. This will not be disputed.
It is perfect, as it requires all possible acts of righteousness. However high, however low, any moral being is, the law of God reaches, and controls, all his possible moral conduct. Angels on the one hand, and little children on the other, can do nothing which is good, which at the same time is not required by this boundless rule of rectitude.
It is perfect, as it prohibits every thing sinful ; that is, every thing of the nature of moral evil. Sin, says the Apostle, is a transgression of the law. in this declaration is involved not only that every transgression of the law is sin, but that the commandment is so exceedingly broad, as to prohibit every thing, which is of the nature of moral evil. But we need no testimonies on this subject. A little consideration will make it evident, that to love God with all the heart, and our neighbour as ourselves, is necessarily incompatible with the existence of sin in the heart, or life, of him, in whom this love is found; and that as love worketh no ill to his neighbour, so it works no ill towards God.
if, then, we are released by the doctrine of justification by faith from our obligations to obey the law, we are released from our obligations to conform to a perfect rule of righteousness; to a law, a commandment, which is absolutely holy, just, and good. Can God be supposed to consent to this release ? Can it be rationally wished by man? Must it not be regarded as a dreadful calamity by every good man? To what would it amount ? To nothing more, nor less, than being released from all obligations to be virtuous.
3dly. This doctrine is completely disproved by Christ.
He denied it to be any part of the end of his mission. Think not, that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. That there may be no doubt concerning the connexion between the phrase, the law and the prophets, and the object here in view, let it be observed, that Christ, having recited the two great commands which I have mentioned, says, On
these two hang all the law and the prophets. If, then, he came not to destroy the law, and the prophets, but to fulfil them, it was certainly no part of the end of his mission to destroy, in any degree, the two commands, on which they are entirely suspended. He has declared the thing to be impossible. Sooner, saith he, shall heaven and earth pass away, than one jot or one tittle, of the law shall pass, until all be fulfilled. This is no other than a declaration, that God will sooner annihilate the whole creation, than consent to give up his law. Nor is this doctrine at all unbecoming the Divine character. To create new heavens and a new earth is a thing easy to him, and can be accomplished by a command. But were he to give up his law in any instance, and with respect to any being, he must recede from governing the Universe by a perfect rule, and in a perfect manner. This would be to deny himself: for it would be no other than declaring by a most solemn act, that he was willing, that the Universe should no longer be governed by a perfect rule; and that he would, henceforth, either not govern it at all, or govern it by an imperfect rule. The injury thus done to his character would be infinite ; nor can any bounds be set to the mischiefs, which in such a case would accrue to the Universe.
4thly. This doctrine is every where denied by St. Paul.
In the 6th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul declares, that Christians are not under law, but under grace.
The Antinomians, totally mistaking the meaning of this declaration, have supposed, that Christians are not under the law, as a rule of obedience; whereas the Apostle meant only, that they are not under the law, as a sentence of condemnation. In the very he
says, What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. But not to obey the law is to sin. Again, in the 1st verse of the same chapter, he asks, What shall we say then? shall we continue in sin, that grace may
abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein? Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body. Of himself, he says, I delight in the law of God after the inward man; and with the mind I myself serve the law of God. He also declares it to be the great end, for which God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as a sin-offering, to condemn sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in Christians, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. If, then, Christians do not fulfil the righteousness of the law, that is, obey it, this great end of Christ's mediation must be frustrated. The same Apostle declares, that Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing ; but keeping the commandments of God; and that circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing ; but faith which worketh by love: and that circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing ; but a new creature.
From these three passages it is evident, among other things, that he, who keepeth the commandments of God, is ihe same person, in all instances, with him, who VOL. II.
is possessed of the faith, which worketh by love, and who is a new creature. So far, then, is faith from making void the law, that it is exhibited by the Apostle as the very spirit, with which its commandments are kept, and which thus becomes the means of establishing the law.
Finally; the same Apostle says, Without holiness no man shall see the Lord. Holiness, every person at all acquainted with the Scriptures knows, is nothing but obedience to the law. Without this obedience, then, a person, who is the subject of faith, and of consequent justification, if we were to suppose such a case, would never see the Lord. These passages, which I have selected without any labour, are ample proof of the falsity of this doctrine. Without any labour also, many more might be easily added, which are equally explicit, and unambiguous, from every part of the New Testament. The decision of St. James has been heretofore recited, as it exists in one passage ; but his whole Epistle, and the whole united voice of the Scriptures, is against this scheme. In truth, I am astonished, that it should have been adopted by any sober man, who has read his Bible.
Let me ask the Antinomian, from which part of the law he considers himself as released; or whether from the whole. Is he released from his obligation to love God? or to love mankind ? or from restraining those passions, which, if indulged, will prevent him from loving either? Or is he released from them all ?* In the former case he is released from being virtuous in part. In the latter he is released from all virtue. In other words, the doctrine of justification by faith has become, to him, a license to hate, or forget, the God that made him ; to hate, or disregard, his neighbour ; and to give the reins to those passions, which, thus indulged, will conduct him to absolute profligacy.
II. The doctrine of justification by faith does not destroy, or lessen, the Motives to obedience.
Those, with whom we have hitherto contended, it will be remembered, hold the doctrine of justification by faith ; and admit this objection in its full force; while they believe that, instead of lessening the evidence of the doctrine, the objection, as well as the doctrine, is an original part of the Evangelical system. Those with whom we are now to contend, on the contrary, deny the doctrine of justification by faith; and allege this objection, as primary evidence of its falsehood. The argumentation, therefore, must now take a different course from that which has been already adopted; and, in most respects, proceed on different principles. The chief design, hitherto, has been, to take the doctrine of justification by faith as granted ; because it is in fact granted by our antagonists ; and with this admission, to show, that the law remains in full force, as an obligatory rule of obedience. The design will now be to show, that the objections against the doctrine, that it
lessens the Motives to obedience, is destitute of validity, because it is destitute of truth. For this purpose, I observe,
1st. That the obedience, which precedes the existence of faith, is destitute of any virtuous character.
Without faith it is impossible to please God. The external acts of conformity to the law of God are frequently called by the name of obedience; and for this reason only have I given them that name. But, in my own view, the Gospel considers them as utterly undeserving of such a title. They are, there, always exhibited as proceeding from an evil heart of unbelief ; and we are decisively taught, that out of the evil treasure of such a heart evil things only proceed.
It is undoubtedly our duty to lay hold on eternal life, and a gross sin to be negligent of this duty. But it cannot be pretended, that the mere pursuit of this good, without any relish for its moral nature, and without any voluntary conformity to the will of God concerning it, is virtuous. In this case, it is pursued with the same spirit, and the same views, with which we labour to obtain property, office, or reputation; and the mind is no less selfish in the one case, than in the other. No man is more scrupulous, or more ex. act, in external religious observances, than the superstitious man. Yet no other person, beside himself, dreams that his observances are virtuous. The Pharisees with great care tithed mint, anise, and cummin ; and this they did with an intention to procure immortal life by what they esteemed obedience. For the same end they washed their hands, cups, pots, and other vessels; made long prayers; gave alms ; fasted often; and did many other things of an external nature with great care, and exactness. So exact, so scrupulous, were they in their outward religious conduct, that they were highly respected by the people at large, as good men.
Still, they are pronounced by our Lord to be a generation of Vipers, and children of hell. All their external offices of religion, then, though directed, generally, at least, to the attainment of eternal life, and performed with the strong expectation of securing it to themselves, were utterly destitute of virtue ; and failed, altogether, of rendering them acceptable to God.
The young man, who came to Christ to know what good thing he should do to inherit eternal life, appears, in his original character, to have been more than usually amiable: for Jesus, beholding him, loved him. The account which he gave of his own external obedience, appears to me to have been sincerely given. There is good reason to believe, that he really, and with uncommon care, had, in the external sense, obeyed the commands of the decalogue. Still
, he lacked one thing; and that was the one thing needful; viz. real, or evangelical virtue.
From these examples, thus considered, it is evident, that men may proceed far, it is difficult to say how far) in external obedience; and yet be destitute of the evangelical character, and of every