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between that which had been wrought for us, and that which is wrought in us; acceptance, and the fruits of acceptance, are not confounded together in the Word of God.
It is as sinners that God meets us, washes us from our sins in the blood of Jesus, accepts us in his righteousness, and makes us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light: it is not by co-operation on our part that these things are done, for then our works would come in; but our salvation is wholly of gruce, the free favour of God,
or through any thing found or wrought in us. “ It is of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end that the promise might be sure.”
It is when a lost sinner has become a saved saint, a child of God, an heir of glory, that works have their place; not to obtain life, or to purchase favour, but because life and favour are already ours, and we ourselves are created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works, and are dwelt in by the Holy Ghost. All these things being ours, the call of God is that we should walk as it is pleasing unto Him ; it is because God hath made us sons, that he calls upon us to walk as sons, privilege given us being ever the ground on which He bases the precepts he addresses to us.
Thus throughout the first eleven chapters of the Epistle to the Romans, we find brought before us the mercy of God—the entire justification of the sinner through the righteousness of another, his freedom from all condemnation, aud the impossibility of his being separated from the love of God. Then in the beginning of chap. xii. we have the exhortation, “ I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service; and be not conformed to this world,” &c.
So again we read of all our duties and conduct, whether it be towards God or towards our brethren, or in the world, as being entirely based upon something which we have already received by the grace of God in Christ Jesus. That we are to be accepted wholly and entirely by righteousness wrought for us, does not imply that we are to be devoid of righteousness wrought in us; but the latter is to be the consequence of receiving the former. The Holy Ghost leads the saint to the manifestation of the life which he has already received through Christ.
“Receive ye one another, as Christ also hath received us to the glory of God.” "Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you. Be ye, therefore, followers of God as dear children ; and walk in love, as Christ also bath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour." Eph. iv. and v.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God; set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth ; for ye are dead [åređảvete, have died] ; and your life is hid with Christ in God; when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall also with him in glory; mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth,” &c. (Col. iii. 144.)
“Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds ; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering ; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (Col. iii. 9—13).
These are but a few samples of the manner in which the Holy Spirit presses practical conduct on the souls of the saints; they are presented as fully forgiven, and then they are called upon to walk as being forgiven. Whatever weakens this distinction does a two-fold evil: 1, the Gospel is veiled from those who need a Saviour ;and 2, a low and worldly walk is produced in Christians : they look to themselves for comfort from the fruits of the Spirit wrought in them, instead of knowing that Jesus has finished the work, and that in Him all who believe are complete. Labouring to obtain life has failed; for this was tried under the law, and now the saints are set in life and blessing, and their responsibility flows from the privilege received.
Thus do we see the distinct line of separation which God has drawn between his Church and the world; “ we know that we [that is believers) are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John v. 19). If any one at all weakens this distinction, he virtually denies the value of the blood of Jesus Christ, for he blends
Rom. xv. 7.
appear those who have been cleansed thereby with those who are still dead in trespasses and sins; and he also does deep dishonour to the Holy Ghost, by looking on those in whom He dwelleth as though they were not sealed by God as His own; as though, in fact, the Father's love, the Son's redemption, and the Holy Ghost's indwelling, were not real and certain blessings.
In Romanism we cannot fail to see how the church and world are identified; the church is not there looked on as being not of the world, for, in fact, they are so co-extensive, that the nominally baptised mass of fallen humanity being called Christians, there is no world left, out of which they can be said to be chosen. In a Romish country this is wholly true; and in England, where Romanism is acting on the aggressive, she is not gathering the saints upon the ground of their unity in Christ, but is seeking to extend the unity of Rome, and to cause more of the world to acknowledge her. Romanism is consistent in this; for as it is denied that we can now know our acceptance and forgiveness, there can be no separation between those who have trusted in Christ and those who have not; every thing must go on upon principles which are not heavenly, but worldly ; for it is the men of the world who are bound together by Romish unity, and not the children of God, who are one in Jesus Christ, and are dwelt in by one Holy Ghost.
Now, whenever Christians (not merely nominal professors) do not clearly see their standing of acceptance, worldly principles must come in. If it were once admitted, that it is not the duty and the privilege of all true believers to know that they are in Christ, and He in them (John xiv. 20), worldliness is the necessary result. If we do not know that we are risen with Christ, there will not be that which will give power in setting our affection on things above; and things of earth will necessarily be rested on.
The worldliness of the professing church has now so systematic a character, that men are gathered together in associations called “ churches,” whose union is wholly on worldly principles: the machinery needful for carrying on the system is worldly; and instead of the risen life of Christ, and the energy of the Holy Ghost, manifested in living saints, there is only exhibited a ramification of Rome : in which Christianity extends but to the profession of articles of faith, and the nominal avowal of the authority of Scripture; while those, who, in the midst of such a system, are actually living members of Christ-are tied down by association and fellowship to the accrediting of that which is of earth, instead of living in the power of the resurrection of Christ, as seated in heavenly places in Him, and judging every thing in the light of the glory seen there.
The ramifications of Rome are widely extended; she is to be seen as the great western trunk of apostate Christendom; her glory is earthly greatness, and it is by the power of the world that she rules. But as is this great trunk of the
66 yine of the earth,” so are the branches which spring therefrom: and however they may hate their parent stock, and protest against it, their identity in life is a certain and solemn fact; the
sap of Rome flows through the branches : every thing which calls itself a church, but which really rests on human authority, has a connection in nature and principle with that greater and more glaring abomination; the branches, whose sap is Romish, bring forth Romish fruit; and as God cannot be pleased with the one, no more can He be with the other. Matt. ii. 10.
Rome has put man in the place of God: Jesus is presented in the word as the one to whom the sinner may come directly for forgiveness; Rome has dared to substitute those who are themselves sinners-her own priests—and has set them between the sinner and Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ, when he ascended, sent down the Holy Ghost to be the administrator of the affairs of His church, until He should return; thus Bernard has well said “ The Holy Ghost is Christ's Vicar on earth ;" but this honour and office have been by Rome conferred upon a man; and thus there is the fearful spectacle of the Pope occupying the place which of right belongeth to God the Holy Ghost, and to Him alone. It is needless to trace out the details of falsehood; human authority standing instead of God's authority is as plain a characteristic of Romanism, as is the placing of the righteousness of Christ on a pinnacle to be looked at, instead of knowing it to be available for any poor sinner to trust in.
Romish unity is the owning of a human head on earth, just as God's unity for His church is being united to a living Head, even His own Son, in the Heavens, who
has sent the Holy Ghost to dwell in all who believe in His name, that they may manifest the unity which they have in their Head.
It is small wonder that when the authority of God was displaced by the authority of man, the word of God should be set aside. “ The Church” assuming to herself the prerogative of the authoritative expounder of scripture, did really set herself as the declarer of what is the truth of God and what is not ; and thus the word was virtually nullified. To admit the authority of man as to the truth of God, becomes really the most resolute exercise of “private judgment;" for it amounts to this ; saying, that we will choose to judge such and such things to be true, because such a man (or body of men) says so, and not because God says so.
“ The right of private judgmeni” is a phrase often used; but it implies either ignorance or else infidelity. I deny that such a “right” exists : God has a “right" to speak; our responsibility is to hear.
Human authority, as to the truth of God, characterises Rome and all her ramifications, so also does “ trudition :" indeed the two things are intimately connected, for the latter is the former in an embodied form ; “ tradition" runs just as counter to the reception of the word of God, as does human authority when exhibited in living men.
If we admit anything to be received as truth binding upon the conscience of a Christian, because it has been said or practised by any man or number of men, and not because of its being written in the word of God, we directly are acting upon “ tradition,” as really as is done by Rome herself.
This is what the ramifications of Rome have done, and are still doing. Look at the unions called churches ---whether they be national establishments, congregational bodies, or Wesleyan connections, [I need not now refer to societies which make no profession of the faith of Christ], and in them all we shall find that the tradition of man bears rule. This statement may grieve brethren in Christ who are bound up in these systems : but to such I would say, that it is far from the desire of my heart to give pain; but bear with me, brethren in the Lord, while I speak for His glory, and endeavour, according to whatever ability His Spirit may give me, to set before you what I assuredly judge must hinder your blessing, your ability in glorifying God, and in serving your brethren. To speak the truth in love is what I desire; and while I will (God enabling me) as far as in me lies, recognise all who are in Christ Jesus, as brethren beloved for His sake, I cannot recognise those systems in which such are found, as being other than dishonouring to Him. I must speak as pleasing God, not men.
The commingling of human tradition with the word of God, shews how little Protestants have got clear of the leaven of Rome; in this they are perhaps more systematically wrong than they are as to the defective preaching of the gospel ; for the failure in this latter respect has perhaps arisen more from individual unfaithfulness than from systematised error.
But look at it as we will, the truth must remain, that if tradition be received or acted upon at all as being of authority, we have no consistent resting-place until we reach the fountain head-Rome.
It is a fact, that in the bodies called churches, “expediency" and "tradition” are used as the excuses for many things ; I must now for a moment glance at the former, although I have not yet done
with the latter. Expediency,” in the use which is now commonly made of the word, means the doing or tolerating of something, not on the ground that it is right, but that some benefit will accrue, or some evil be hindered. It comprehends within itself that which is often expressed by doing things, or holding positions for the sake of fulness :”—but let this usefulness and this expediency be tested not by the thoughts of men, but by the word of God.
I must speak explicitly about this; for it is easy for us to put things from us, as though others were implicated but not ourselves; and thus by an example I may shew what I mean more simply than I otherwise could.
Å clergyman of the establishment knows assuredly that it is only by faith in the Lord Jesus that we are born again, and yet continues to read the appointed services, thanking God that He has vouchsafed “to regenerate” every infant whom he has baptised: he catechises all the children, teaching them to say that in their baptism they were made “members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom
of heaven:"_and in the service, week by week, he addresses as “ dearly beloved brethren,” those to whom he presently preaches the gospel, setting before those whom he may have taught, in obedience to the “ Church Catechism,” that they are "children of God,” their need of a Saviour, and that it is not the many but the few who have sought unto that blood which speaks peace unto sinners.*
Now to what does this all amount ? Ilere is a Christian acting in obedience to human authority, and doing that which he KNOWS to be wrong. Are not all the evangelical clergy now so acting? Yet he would excuse himself no doubt, (for many do this so as to deceive their own minds), by thoughts about “ usefulness," and the important sphere of labour which he would lose if he were to give up his position as a clergyman of the establishment, and stand in simple obedience to the word of God. This compromise of conscience is very wrong, and I am sad of heart in writing about it; for I know that Jesus our Lord is dishonoured by it, and nothing can be truly “useful” in the sight of God but that which is in accordance with His mind; I do not say that the Father of mercies cannot bless the labour bestowed, in spite of the evil of the system, for thus He often does bless it; but in this he shews His own abounding grace, and not that He approves of dishonesty in His servants.
But if it were once admitted, that for the sake of usefulness or expediency, some little bit of evil might be tolerated, why not a little more ? It would be only perhaps
small addition, and perhaps there might be more “usefulness” attained to by acting on this little bit more. But if one step be taken deliberately wrong, when or where are we to stop? “ If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light :” if singleness of eye be lost, we are left to go on bewildered in a maze, with but a dim perception of what is truth and what is error.
If any one can read a service which he knows is false, thanking God for having done what He knows he has not done, and addressing sinners as being that which he knows that they are not ; why should he not go a step farther (it is but a step), and read the whole of the service ordered by Rome: it is true that the latter contains absolute denials of the gospel; but, surely, the former does so likewise ; and whatever arguments are valid for conformity to the former, are quite as good when applied to the latter.
* Many and desperate are the attempts which are made by evangelical clergymen in the Establishment to prove that she does not teach “ Baptismal Regeneration;" but their efforts are of precisely the same kind as those which are used by the Socinians to disprove the proper Godhead of Jesus our blessed Lord. They say that the services are to be explained by the “ Articles.” They use the one because they say it is contradicted by the other, and yet they have declared their "UNFEIGNED assent and consenť' to both!
Now there are two copies of the Articles, the one Latin and the other English: both are equally authoritative; and the comparison of the two shews how entirely the leaven of “ Baptismal Regeneration” works through the whole mass of the documentary authorities of the establishment. Thus, in the Latin, “credentibus et RENATIS” is used as the equivalent for “to them that believe and are BAPTIZED” of the English. An appeal to the" Articles" only shews how hopeless is the case of a clergyman who affirms ibat the false doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration is not held by the Anglican Establishment, very much in the same way as by the Roman Apostasy.
The Services, Articles, and Catechism are three consenting witnesses : they all concur in their testimony to false doctrine. A clergyman who does not believe in the formulary acts a very dishonest part; and one who is so blind as to credit the doctrine shews that he is utterly disqualified for preaching the gospel of the grace of God.
The Establishment appears to undertake the salvation of all who are baptised into her pale, whether children or adults, in three ways; the vows of the sponsors shew this : 1, in the name of the child, they “renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh ;'' this, of course, puts the child into a Paradisaical state, free from original sin: 2, also, they vow that the child shall obey God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of his life;
this would be life obtaine
through works of the law, (by which, the Scripture says, no man living can be justified): 3, and, as if supposing that the original purity and the legal obedience may be a little deficient, there is also vowed that the child shall believe all the articles of the Christian faith ; perhaps this introduces faith in Christ by implication, and thus we have a third path of hlessing; and these three things, be it remembered, are all promised and vowed to every infant in the Establishment, How is it that any of them prove ungodly?
If human authority be pleaded for these things, Rome has a much higher claim than the National Establishment; and as to tradition (which is practically so much admitted) how can that which is merely Anglican compare with that which is Crtholic?
I doubt not but that many of those who have tampered with known error, when it has been to them but as a rivulet, will find themselves carried away by it, when it becomes the swollen mountain torrent; it were marvellous if it should be otherwise.
A “ Layman" may think that all this has nothing to do with him : what! is a “Layman" in the Church of Rome, quite free from identification in the sin and error of that system? If this be true in the Romish system, then it is true in the Anglican, BUT NOT ELSE.
In looking at one branch of the Roman trunk, how much there is to sorrow over in the inconsistent standing of the children of God, who are bound up in the system ! and, yet there are, it may be, more of God's saints in the Establishment than in any other ramifications of Rome in this land; and I believe, further, that these saints are, in private, more in subjection to the word of God than most others are: but this causes me to mourn the more over the unholy compact with error and with its upholders, in which these children of God are bound up.
In looking at the other bodies, called Churches, many of the same features are visible, which clearly betoken Roman parentage, and the very little subjection which they shew to the word of God, is a painful evidence how much they are depending upon something else. Alas! it may be said to them all, “ Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”
What but the tradition of man, in one form or other, hinders bodies called Congregational Churches” from recognising the unity of the body of Christ, by knowing no other thought in membership with them, save membership with Christ? What else prevents them from receiving all whom Christ has received, not because of similarity of sentiment, but only for the sake of the one common Lord ? —Why is not the Holy Ghost acknowledged in the place in which He has been set by Christ, as the one “who divideth to every man severally as he will,” and thus every Christian allowed to serve in that place in the body in which God has set him ?Why do the Churches rule those who are over them in the Lord, instead of obeying the word, “ Obey them that have the rule over you?”—Paul, in his farewell address to the elders of Ephesus, said "I have shewed you [elders] all things, how that so labouring [i. e. with one's own hands] ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive;" why do not those who profess to be elders in the Churches, obey this example and command ?*
Because these things are contrary to their custom and tradition ; yes, disguise as men like, there is “tradition” at the bottom of all this, and expediency and usefulness, too, are used to defend it; no marvel, then, that we see such churches settled into worldliness, for the leaven of Rome is embodied in their very constitution.
Wesleyanism might be pressed with enquiries just as cogent.
It is very sad to see evil defended on the ground of tradition, or expediency, or to see saints quietly resting satisfied with evil; it is as much as to say that we must not act on the word of God, because something of man prevents us—as though man were the greater and God the less ! or, we may be told that holy men have not acted on such or such a portion of truth, and therefore we are not to do so either; but this would be bending the word of God to the form of man's tradition, and not owning its paramount authority.
The word of God supplies us with an illustration; when Ezra read the book of the law to the people, they found written in the law which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month : and in obedience to that which was written : “ all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the
* Let not this be mistaken; an evangelist has a right to maintenance : but an elder in the Church is quite a different thing; the confusion of gifts, and their practical denial, have led many not to know the one from the other; and this, to say the least, is sadly misapprehending the word of God. VOL. II.