« AnteriorContinuar »
"be, directly by itself and considered antecedently to th* gift of Christ, an effectual mean of giving life to the dead soul, and of taking away the natural enmity of the heart. All this is directly contrary to those scriptures in which the law is said to have a killing, instead of a quickening effect upon fallen men, and to be the strength of sin, 1 Corinth. xv. 56. 2 Corinth. iii. Rom. vi. 5. Farther, if, according to Mr. Bellamy's supposition, men be saved by the law in some degree, why not in a greater degree? why not fully? The reconciliation of the heart to the holiness of the law, attained, according to him, by the just views of the law "which the Holy Spirit gives the sinner in or immediately after regeneration, being a real salvation, the person supposed to be the subject of this work needs only an increase of these views of the law attended with the same efficacy. Where then is the necessity of the gospel of Jesus Christ or of faithin it?
The following is another of Mr. Bellamy's arguments on this head. "You can never acquiesce," says he, " in the blood of Christ as honourable to God, 4f till the law first appears glorious in your eyes. Yon '* will rather feel the heart of an infidel in your breast."
Answer. It seems too assuming and dictatorial to say, as Mr. Bellamy does here, Unless God make the law appear glorious and amiable to the sinner in the Very way that I think most proper, it is not possible for his power and grace to make it appear so to the sinner in any other way. Why may not God give the elect soul a joint view of Christ's righteousness, and of the law as magnified and made honourable by that blessed righteousness? May not the Lord, in a work of legal conviction, give the sinner very clear and distinct), O
though not heart-reconciling views of the law, as holy, just and good? May not the sinner under such a work have his mouth stopped, seeing himself shut up under the commanding and condemning power of the law* covenant? May he not be brought to stand at the bar of God, stript of every plea and driven to despair? May he not thus be brought to conclude, that his salva,tion is utterly inconsistent with the honour of God's lavr and justice? This is a great work; and yet it is no more than what reprobates themselves shall be brought 'to, sooner or later. There is nothing in all this of regenerating or saving grace. The most agonizing convictions may be, where there is no saving conversion. But who dare deny, that the former often precede the tatter; or that the awful views, which persons get, before regeneration, of the law-curse, may be of use in or after that supernatural change, both to help them to a light understanding of the gospel of Christ, and to excite them to flee for refuge to the hope set before them? Do we make void the law through faith? God forbid. Yea, iue establish the law. By faith in Jesus Christ we give it the highest honour, both as a covenant and as a rule of life. As a covenant, it is hereby presented with a righteousness wrought out by the Son of God in our nature; which not only answers all its demands, but magnifies and makes it honourable. As a rule of life, it is regarded as the perfect standard of that conformity to God in holiness, which is promised in the covenant of grace; which constitutes a principal part of our blessedness; after which we are incessantly to aspire while here, and which we hope to attain fully hereafter, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Such views of the law, as thus magnified and made honourable irk Christ, are the most effectual means,of reconciling the* heart to it
But, it is said, we turned enemies to God first, and therefore we are first to be reconciled unto God before he be reconciled unto us.
Answer. It may as well be said, that we ought to do all that the law requires, before God be reconciled to us. This indeed, is the plan of the covenant of works; but is diametrically opposite to the plan of the new covenant, which is designed to cut off all occasion of creature-boasting; to sat forth man's impotence and nothingness; and to display the exceeding riches of the grace of God in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus. A great part of Mr. Bellamy's declamation proceeds upon this supposition, that whatever could not and should not have had place according. to the old broken covenant, has not and cannot have place according to the new and everlasting covenant; a supposition which takes away the essential difference between the two covenants.
The promise, says the apostle, is of faith, that it may be of graced. It is manifestly of grace, when faith embraces it upon no other ground than the direction of it to sinners of mankind who read or hear it: but the case would be quite otherwise, were the faith, of our interest in the promise founded, according to Mr. Bellamy's plan, upon our sincere approbation of the law, our love to God's holiness, and other morally good qualifications; just as man's-claim to the promise of eternal life, .if he had continued upright, would havt; been founded upon his own perfect obedience.
t Rom. iv. IS
On the faith of the Gospel, as necessary in order to our attainment oj true Love to God.
LOVE to God is the chief and most necessary* duty of all reasonable creatures. Hence our religious tenets may be justly tried by their tendency to promote this heavenly affection. On this account it is necessary to take notice of the following charges which Mr. Bellamy brings against the doctrine of his opponents.
1. He complains, " that many look upon the no"tion of loving God for himself as a mere chimera*." But who are they that do so? Not Mr. Marshal, who tells us, " that the duties of love to God above all, and to "each other for his sake, are of the greatest excelll lency; that we are to love every thing in God, his "justice, holiness, sovereign authority, all-seeing eye a and all his decrees, commands, judgments and doings. «< We are to love him not only better than other things, "but singly as the only good, the fountain of all gooda ness." The sanctifying, says he in another place, and glorifying of God's name in all things is the first and chief petition, Matth. vi. 9. and is the end we ought to aim at in all our acting, 1 Cor. x. 31. Not Mr. Boston, who says in his Fourfold State, " A real "Christian is one who loves God for himself as well as "for his benefits; and that with a supreme love above
* Dial. i. p. at
"all persons and all things." Not Mr. HerVey, who directs us to put such questions to ourselves as the following: "Have we duly acquainted ourselves with "the marvellous excellencies of the Lord Jehovah? "Have we loved him with all our heart? Is our esteem "for this immensely great and most blessed Being, "high, superlative, matchless, like that expressed by "the Psalmist: Whom have I in heaven but thee, and "there is none ufwn earth, whom I desire besides thee* '-" Not the ministers in a state of secession from the established church of Scotland, who, in their Judicial Testimony, published in the year 1736, in opposition to the opinion of Mr. Campbel, too much countenanced by the General Assembly of that church, express; themselves in the following manner: "It is evident "from the Word, that God's infinite perfections and "glorious excellencies are the main ground and reason "of our loving, obeying and worshipping him, and not "chiefly his benefits to us and his promoting our hap"piness: and though the prospect of it may be a se"condary motive to our obedience; yet the scriptures "declare, that what God is in himself, or his own infia nite perfection, is the primary ground and formal "reason of the whole of our obedience and worship. "And all, who truly love God, do love him chiefly for "himself."
2. Mr. Bellamy represents his opponents as holding, that it is not the duty of unregenerate men, previous to the knowledge of the way of reconciliation to God through Christ, to love God on account of the goodness and excellency of his naturel: whereas Mr.
* Theron and Aspasio, Letter I. «*
t Dial. i. p. 10. " The first question is, Whether unrege-* f* nerate sinners ought to love God."