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P. clxx. 1. 10. • But if, &c.'' · Works, the ap
pointed condition of salvation,' might here be noticed, as language not found in scripture, nor known to our reformers. But if this were not so,
we should of course become indifferent to the cha. 'racter of our actions. This must mean, that selflove is the highest, or the only inotive, of human activity, even in the most religious persons : other. wise love to God and man, love to holiness, hatred of sin, and other disinterested motives, might render us " zealous of good works,” even if we did not think them the condition of salvation. But if nothing, except mercenary hope and slavish fear can deter mep from wickedness; it is manifest, that they are destitute of love, gratitude, benevolence, and every right disposition.
P. clxx. Note. • In the, &c.'? This note ap
• potion of deserving it, all idea of merit on our part, is to be • disclaimed. The whole and every part of this inestimable 'blessing, every consequence and effect proceeding from it, di
rectly or indirectly, is the free-gift of God to unworthy and un
deserving map. This distinction between meritorious cause and ' appointed condition is a very material one.'
''But if we went into the opposite extreme, and believed that good works were not the appointed condition of salvation, we • should of course become indifferent to the character of our " actions.'
In the Revelation it is said, “Blessed are they that do his "commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life."! * This is a right not founded in the real merit of men, but derived
from the gracious promise of God; not a claim upon God's justice, but a free gift of his mercy. A promise, from its
· Rev. xxij. 14.
pears to give a right view of the text, on which it is made.
P. clxxi. l. 15. Those who, Sec." . This belongs properly to the subject of the next chapter. Had the words the enthusiasts of the present day,' been explained, and the reader clearly informed, whát body of men were intended, what sentiment these persons maintained, and how they might be distinguished from other teachers; the caution to avoid them would have been more explicit, and suited to produce more effect. As it is, we inust put it along with another phrase, sometimes improperly used on the other side of the question ; · The blind Pharisees of
' nature implies that it might have been withholden without in. * justice; but he who promises, contracts a debt, which he is • bound to discharge upon the performance of the conditions on ' which the promise is macle. A promise proves the kindness • of him who promised, and not the worthiness of him to whom • the promise is rnade; and that kindness is the greater, the
greater is the value of the thing promised, and the inore easy the conditions upon which it is promised.' I Those, who listen to the enthusiasts of the present day, too often
suppose themselves the chosen vessels of God, and are per• suaded that no conduct, however atrocious, however un· christian, can finally deprive them of eternal felicity; since they
are taught to believe, that though it may be ordained that for a time they may fall from grace, yet it is irreversibly decreed that they shall ultimately be saved. If these preachers do not in so
many words tell their hearers, that their moral conduct will • have no influence upon the senience which will be pronounced
upon them in the last day; or if they do not entirely pass oyer • in silence the great duties of morality, yet if they dwell so much
more earnestly and more frequently upon the necessity and merit • of faith, as to induce an opinion that good works are of little
comparative importance, the natural consequence will be, a s laxity of principle and a dissoluteness of manners.
Even a « doubt of the efficacy of virtue will lead to a disregard of its
the present day. It will, however, be concluded by numbers, that his Lórdship means the evangelical clergy, as part of the company at least. But, i hope, there is not one of them, I am sure there are very few, who teach their hearers to suppose themselves the chosen vessels of God, and to be per: suaded, that no conduct, however atrocious or unchristian, can finally deprive them of eternal felicity, * &c. Many of the evangelical clergy do not hold the doctrine referred to: it forms no prominent part of the publick instruction of a large majority of those who do; and they, who are most particular on the subject, with very few, if any, exceptions, state it thus : No man can have scriptural ground to conclude himself interested in this unspeakable benefit; except as he is himself conscious, and evidences to others, that he has true living faith, producing unreserved obedience. If he be overcome by temptation, and fall into sin; he must lose his confidence of his acceptance, if it be genuine: this he never can legitimately recover, till by deep repentance, with its appropriate fruits, and by renewed faith, in God's mercy through Christ, his prayer, “ Restore “ to me the joy of thy salvation,” be answered. He may, and if a true believer, we suppose, is, in à safe state: but he cannot know, and is not authorized to think himself, in a safe state, after having grossly sinned, till unequivocal repentance has taken place. And, it is our general instruction, that if a inan take encouragement from this doctrine, when living
in the habitual practice of any known sin, or the habitual neglect of any known duty; and quiet his conscience by it; it is a decided proof, that he is a Hypocrite. Whether our sentiment, in this particular, be true, or no; this is my view of the subject: and I would not be thought to plead the cause of any, who wish to state this point, in a more lax and accommodating manner. If this statement de serve the censure, contained in the
passage adduced : let it bear it. It is indeed true, that some, who do not · pass over in silence the great duties of mora
lity,' or rather of christian holiness, do treat on other subjects more earnestly. But, in so doing, they meet the decided disapprobation of a large number and an increasing number, of those, who hold. the same doctrines.—What is meant by the effi
cacy of virtue,' does not appear. It is allowed, that even real good works have no efficacy, in our justification. But, if there be any virtue, if there * be any praise, think of these things,' is our exhortation to our flocks. We indeed dwell earnestly on the necessity of faith, and of its efficacy, if genuine, for our justification : but we speak as little of the • merit of faith, as of the efficacy of virtue, for merit and efficacy are by no means the same. P. clxxii. 1. 8.
Although, &c.'' If the best
i Although the best actions of men must partake of the infir
mity of their nature, aod cannot give the slightest claim to * eternal happiness; yet to represent every human deed as an ' actual sin, and deserving of everlasting punishment, is not only • unauthorized by Scripture, but is also of very dangerous conse
quence, It tends to destroy all distinction between virtue and
' things which we do have something in thein to be
pardoned;" then there must be sin in every human deed. Man is very far gone from original right
eousness, and is of his own nature inclined to ' evil; so that the flesh always lusteth against the spirit." · Works done before the grace of Christ,
, • and the inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant 'to God ;=for that they are not done, as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but that they have the nature of sin."
« The “ ploughing of the wicked is sin."4 Every human deed, therefore, which is done before thegraceof Christ, is an actual sin.—“Cursed is every one who conti“ nueth not in all things written in the book of the
'vice, and to make meu careless of their conduct; it is to con. found those who live under the absolute dominion of sin, with those who occasionally yield to temptation; it is to make no
discrimination between the habitually wicked, and those who through surprise or inadvertence deviate from the path of duty, between premeditated crimes and unintentional offences. Not. only particular actions of men are commended both in the Old
and New Testament, but at the day of final retribution Christ is • described as saying, “ Well done, thou good and faithful ser'vant," " which implies that a man's general habits and conduct ' in life may be deserving of the approbation of his Judge. • How can this address of our Saviour be reconciled with the • tenets of those, who consider every action of man as sinful and
punishable? Where can be the justifying works of which St. 'James speaks? where can be “the charity, and service, and “ faith, and patience," "recorded in the Revelation ? Where are * those who “ have not defiled their garments," who “
worthy," and whose - names are not blotted out of the book " of life ?” · Note, Refutation, p. 60, 61. 2 Art, ix.
3 Art sij. * Prov. xxi. 4.