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nate, and presential effects of repentance'; but an imperfect, little, growing, uncertain, and hazardous reconciliation : a repentance that is always in production, a renovation by parts, a pardon that is revocable, a “ salvation” to be
wrought by fear and trembling :" all our remanent life must be in bitterness, our hopes allayed with fears, our meat attempered with coloquintida, and " death is in the pot :” as our best actions are imperfect, so our greatest graces are but possibilities and aptnesses to a reconcilement, and all our life we are working ourselves into that condition we had in baptism, and lost hy our relapse. As the habit lessens, so does the guilt; as our virtues are imperfect, so is the pardon; and because our piety may be interrupted, our state is uncertains, till our possibilities of sin are ceased, till our “ fight is finished,” and the victory therefore made sure because there is no more fight. And it is remarkable, that St. Peter gives counsel to live holily, in pursuance of our redemption, of our calling, and of our “ escaping from that corruption that is in the world through lust,” lest we. lose the benefit of our purgation, to which, by way of antithesis, he opposes this: * Wherefore the rather give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” And, "if ye do these things, ye shall never fall8.” Meaning, by the perpetuating our state of baptism and first repentance we shall never fall, but be in a sure estate ; our calling and election shall be sure h.” But not, if we fall; “ if we forget we were purged from our old sinsi,” if we forfeit our.“ calling," we have also made our “ election" unsure, moveable, and disputable.
12. So that now the hopes of lapsed sinners rely upon another bottom. And, as in Moses' law there was no revelation of repentance, but yet the Jews had hopes in God, and were taught the succours of repentance by the homilies of the prophets, and other accessory notices : so in the Gospel the covenant was established upon faith and repentance, but it was consigned in baptism, and was verifiable only in the integrity of a following holy life according to the measures of a man; not perfect, but sincere ; not faultless, but heartily endeavoured : but yet the mercies of God, in pardoning
i Ante obitum nemo supremaqne funera felix.
sinners lapsed after baptism, was declared to us by collateral and indirect occasions; by the sermons of the apostles, and the commentaries of apostolical persons, who understood the meaning of the Spirit, and the purposes of the Divine mercy, and those other significations of his will, which the blessed Jesus left upon record in other parts of his testament, as in codicils annexed, besides the precise testament itself. And it is certain, if, in the covenant of grace, there be the same involution of an after-repentance, as there is of present pardon upon past repentance and future sanctity, it is impossible to justify, that a holy life, and a persevering sanctity, is enjoined by the covenant of the Gospel : if, I say, in its first intention, it be declared that we may as well, and upon the same terms, hope for pardon upon a recovery hereafter, as upon the perseverance in the present condition.
13. From these premises, we may soon understand what is the duty of a Christian in all his life, even to pursue his own undertaking made in baptism, or his first access to Christ, and redemption of his person from the guilt and punishment of sins. The state of a Christian is called in Scripture “regeneration, spiritual life, walking after the Spirit, walking in newness of life;" that is, “a bringing forth fruits meet for repentance.” That repentance, which, tied up in the same ligament with faith, was the disposition of a Christian to his regeneration and atonement, must have holy life in perpetual succession; for that is the apt and proper fruit of the first repentance which John the Baptist preached as an introduction to Christianity, and as an entertaining the redemption by the blood of the covenant. And all that is spoken in the New Testament is nothing but a calling upon us to do what we promised in our regeneration, to perform that which was the design of Christ, who therefore redeemed us, and " bare our sins in his own body, that we might die unto sin, and live unto righteousness." 14. This is that saying of St. Paul“, “ Follow
“ Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord : looking diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you." Plainly saying, that unless we pursue the state of holiness
and Christian communion, into which we were baptized when we received the grace of God, we shall fail of the state of grace, and never come to see the glories of the Lord. : And a little before, “ Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water!”: That is the first state of our redemption, that is “the covenant God made with us, to remember our sins no more, and to put his laws in our hearts and minds m.” And this was done “ when our bodies were washed with water, and our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,” that is, in baptism. It remains then that we persist in the condition, that we may continue our title to the covenant; for so it follows, “ Let us
old fast the profession of our faith without wavering : for if we sin wilfully after the profession, there remains no more sacrifice :” that is, if we hold not fast the profession of our faith, and continue not the condition of the covenant, but fall into a contrary state, we have forfeited the mercies of the covenant. So that all our hopes of blessedness, relying upon: the covenant made with God in Jesus Christ, are ascertained upon us by“ holding fast that profession,” by retaining hearts” still“ sprinkled from an evil conscience,” by“ following peace with all men, and holiness :" for, by not “ failing of the grace of God,” we shall not fail of our hopes," the mighty price of our high calling;” but without all this, we shall never: see the face of God.
15. To the same purpose are all those places of Scripture, which entitle us to Christ and the Spirit upon no other condition but a holy life, and a prevailing, habitual, victorious grace...“. Know you not your ownselves,” brethren, “ how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates ° ??? There are but two states of being in order to eternity, either a state of the inhabitation of Christ, or the state of reprobation: either“ Christ is in us," or we“ are reprobates.". But what does that signify, to have “ Christ dwelling in us?” That also we learn at the feet of the same doctor: "If Christ: be in you, the body is dead by reason of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness P.” The body of sin is mortified,
i Heb. x. 22.
n Heb. x. 93, 26.
m Ver. 16, 17.
and the life of grace is active, busy, and spiritual, in all them who are not in the state of reprobation. The parallel with that other expression of his : “ They that are Christ's, have crucified the Aesh with the affections and lusts 9.” If sin be vigorous, if it be habitual, if it be beloved, if it be not dead or dying in us, we are not of Christ's portion, we belong not to him, nor he to us. For “ whoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God":" that is, every regenerate person is in a condition, whose very being is a contradiction and an opposite design to sin. When he was regenerate; and born anew “ of water and the Spirit, the seed of God,” the original of piety, was put into him, and bidden to increase and multiply." “ The seed of God" (in St. John) is the same with “ the word” of God (in St. James), “ by which he begat uso;” and as long as this remains, a regenerate person cannot be given up to sin; for when he is, he quits his baptism, he renounces the covenant, he alters his relation to God in the same degree as he enters into a state of sin.
16. And yet this discourse is no otherwise to be understood than according to the design of the thing itself and the purpose of God; that is, that it be a deep engagement and an effectual consideration for the necessity of a holy life: but at no hand let it be made an instrument of despair, nor an argument to lessen the influences of the Divine mercy. For although the nicety and limits of the covenant, being consigned in baptism, are fixed upon the condition of a holy and persevering uninterrupted sanctity; and our redemption is wrought but once, completed but once, we are but once absolutely, entirely, and presentially forgiven, and reconciled to God, this reconciliation being in virtue of the sacrifice, and this sacrifice applied in baptism is one, as“ baptism is one,” and as the sacrifice is one: yet the mercy of God, besides this great feast, hath fragments, which the apostles and ministers spiritual are to gather up in baskets, and minister to the after-needs of indigent and necessitous disciples.
17. And this we gather, as fragments are gathered, by respersed sayings, instances and examples of the Divine
q Gal. v. 24.
r 1 Jolm, iii. 9.
• James, i, 18.
mercy, recorded in holy Scripture. The holy Jesus commands us to “ forgive our brother seventy times seven times," when he asks our pardon and implores our mercy; and since the Divine mercy is the pattern of ours, and is also procured by ours, the one being made the measure of the other, by way of precedent and by way of reward, God will certainly forgive us as we forgive our brother: and it cannot be imagined God should oblige us to give pardon oftener than he will give it himself, especially since he hath expressed ours to be a title of a proportionable reception of his ; and hath also commanded us to ask pardon all days of our life, even in our daily offices, and to beg it in the measure and rule of our own charity and forgiveness to our brother. And therefore God, in his infinite wisdom, foreseeing our frequent relapses, and considering our infinite infirmities, appointed in his church an ordinary ministry of pardon : designing the minister to pray for sinners, and promising to accept him in that his advocation, or that he would open or shut heaven respectively to his act on earth; that is, he would hear his prayers, and verify his ministry, to whom he hath “ committed the word of reconciliation.” This became a duty to Christian ministers, spiritual persons, that they should "restore a person overtaken in a fault," that is, reduce him to the condition he begins to lose; that they should "
pray over sick persons," who are also commanded to “ confess their sins ;" and God hath promised, that “ the sins they have committed shall be forgiven them.” Thus St. Paul absolved the incestuous, excommunicate Corinthian ; in the person of Christ he forgave him. And this, also, is the confidence St. John taught the Christian church, upon the stock of the excellent mercy of God, and propitiation of Jesus: " If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousnessy.” Which discourse he directs to them who were Christians, already initiated into the institution of Jesus. And the epistles which
i Gal. vi. 1.
u James, v. 14. 1 Εί τις επίσκοπος ή πρεσβύτερος τον επιστρέφοντα από αμαρτίας ου προσδέχεται, αλλά αποβάλλεται, καθαιρείσθω, ότι λυπεί Χριστόν τον ειπόντα, Χαρά γίνεται εν τω ουρανώ επί εν αμαρτωλώ μετανοούντι. - Can. Apost. 51.
Ο πιστευθείς παρά Θεού λύειν και δεσμεϊν, ει φιλανθρωπότερος γένοιτο, ουκ έσται matavárews &&106. — S. Busil. Can. Pænit.
y 1 John, i. 9.