Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

into the real and exact meaning of Mr. Locke ;) that it is an absolute misrepresentation of the doctrine of the Scriptures Themselves. The Scriptures do not inform us, that God at first thought, that mankind could be perfectly obedient to the Law of Right Action, but afterwards found they could not: What they reveal to us is, that all the Difpensations of God to Man were known unto God before man was created ; and, that knowing mankind would in fact very greatly transgress against the Law of Right Action, God did from the beginning design to judge all mankind at the last, by the merciful terms of sincere, though imperfect obedience, and moreover to bestow fuch a reward upon the sincerely obedient, as even perfect obedience itself could not have given us any right to claim.

In this limited sense, and in this only, is it revealed in the Scriptures, that the Law of Faith and Sincere Obedience, is substituted in the stead of Perfect Obedience. And surely such a Substitution as this; if indeed it may be properly stiled any Substitution at all; is not only consistent with, but a most glorious display of, both the wisdom and the goodness of God. Of his goodness, fince it exhibits God conferring on man-: kind such a reward for imperfect obedience, as we could have laid no claiin to had our obedi. ence been complete. And of his wisdom it is surely as strong a proof; fince instead of being calculated to encrease our disobedience to the Law of Right Action; as the Author would insinuate; its evident design, and natural effect is, by preventing presumption on the one hand, and defpair on the other; þy enforcing every particular of Right Action in the purest and most perfect manner;

and by engaging, at the same time, every principle of gratitude and duty, and all our hopes

and

and fears, on the side of Right Action; to bring us to a greater degree of virtue, than we should otherwise have practised; and thus at last to a more complete state of happiness than could otherwise have been bestowed upon us.

When therefore the Author says, “ It appears " to me extremely dangerous to admit, that God ** has substituted any thing in the room of virtue,

or right action; or that he will accept of any atonement besides

repentance and amend ment'; He puts a supposition, which we have seen is contradictory to the Doctrine of the New Testament ; since there we are expressly taught, we shall not be accepted of God without repentance ; which, in the Gospel notion of it, always includes amendment. Not to add, that our amendment is, properly speaking, no atonement for our tranfgressions, and that it is utterly out of our own power to make any atonement at all for them. As indeed, what can be more obvious, than that no one but the Law-giver Himself, can appoint an atonement for the transgression of his Law? We will therefore gladiy join with the Author, and say, -" If, in any Syitem, instead of

piety towards God, of justice, charity, and uni« verfal benevolence to mankind; which is the

Religion of Nature; the Belief of certain

propositions is substituted ; such a religion can“ not be reasonable, nor fit to be embraced by “ Rational Beings; whatever authorities from “ men or books may be brought to support it $.' It is with pleasure we join with the Author so far; but then we must go a step further, than I am afraid he may be willing to follow, and add ; that neither the Old Testament nor the New, delivers any account of such a substitution as this

P. 311.

s P. 313.

nay

nay, that the moral precepts of the New appear utterly inconsistent with any such substitution as the Author here supposes; and consequently, that no objection can be drawn from hence, to the propriety of our being required to believe in CHRIST, as the New Testament itself really requires us.

In return therefore to the Author's question,“ How far a man may venture to deviate from “ perfect righteousness; or what errors a Right " Belief, and Saving Faith, will atone for ?” — In return to this question, as far as concerns the Gospel itself; let him understand first; That our Faith, or Belief, how right foever it may be, cannot atone for any of our offences; because it is not in our own power to make any atonement for them. And Secondly, That it is so far from being the case, that a Right Believer in Christ may, on account of that Belief, venture to deviate farther, than a Right Believer in Natural Religion ; that he is much more culpable if he deviates so far. Right Reason will not authorise the One, nor will Christianity the Other, in deviating one step designedly; nor does the New Testament teach us, that Belief in Christ is an atonement for any such deviation; or even any atonement at all : but, on the contrary, that upon our repentance; which in the Gospel always signifies reformation; our forsaken offences will be forgiven, and the inestimable blessings of Christian Salvation be moreover conferred upon us, by the perfectly free, unmerited grace, or favour of God, through Christ.

If therefore the Believer in CHRIST " trusts ! too much to his Faith, and too little to his ! Virtue;" which the Author is pleased to suppose he may"; the cause of this error muft lie in

P. 311.

• Ibid.

himself,

[ocr errors]

himself, and not in the Gospel. The advantage of the Christian does by no means consist in this That the Gospel does not require him to be so good a man, as Natural Religion requires the Deist to be; but that while it clearly requires him to be as good as he can be, and points out his duty with the utmoft purity and perfection ; it supplies him likewise with such additional means and motives for the practice of all virtue, as are able to make him, and ought therefore to make him, a better man; by revealing an express promise from God, to confer upon all such as believe in Christ, and fincerely, though imperfectly obey his Laws, that eternal happiness of which Natural Religion, or our own Reason, could not give us any, even the least assurance; and which no Revelation before that of CHRIST did explicitly reveal. An advantage, surely, well worth the Author's most serious consideration, when he compares the situation of the Deist, or the Heathen, with that of the Disciple of Christ.

And when the infinite goodness of God has led him to fend Jesus CHRIST into the world, to reveal to us the purest Precepts of all virtue and true Religion, and to set before us the most perfect Example; When 'of his own pure love for mankind, and from his original benevolent design to pardon their offences upon their real amendment, he has appointed the voluntary Death of CHRIST to be an atonement for the offences of all thofe who sincerely repent; that is, to be the chofen Medium through which his infinite Wisdom and Goodness fees fit to forgive them; When, in confequence of this, he has explicitly declared, what we could not otherwise have known, that through CHRIST he will reward our sincere though imperfect obedience, if accompanied by repentance and amendment, with a state of eternal happiness, to which we could not have had any natural claim, even if we had never tranfgreffed ; And when finally he has furnished JESUS CHRIST, who declared all this, with such infallible proofs of Divine Authority, as to make all the established Laws of the Creation give way at his Command;

What can be more proper, what more reasonable, than to require ; that we should seriously and candidly lay this evidence to heart; confels the Divine Authority of Him, who we find was undoubtedly accompanied with it ; believe alf the Declarations he has made ; devoutly receive that Plan of our Redemption which he has delivered ; :and expect our final happiness, through his Mediation, only upon our compliance with those conditions he has laid down ;-a Rational Belief in Him, as our Mediator and Redeemer, and sincere though imperfect Obedience to all his Commands?

SECT. XIX.

[ocr errors]

Sederal of the Author's occasional Mistakes and

Inconsistencies pointed out.
HERE are many particulars occurring in

our Author's Work which need some little observation, but which it would have broke too much into the argument to have considered as we went along: We will here therefore throw them together, and give them a short notice.

It is a fundamental principle with the Author, that Mysteries are unintelligible, and that no part of the New Teftament, except its Moral Precepts alone, is to be regarded as authorised by Christ. Yet "he quotes and praises a paffage from St. Paul,

w P. 127, 128

« AnteriorContinuar »