« AnteriorContinuar »
ration is perfisted in to the end of the day of salvation, the sin unto death is committed, the spirit is quenched in his saving operation, the apostate dies the second death, and his corrupt soul is caft into the bottomless pit, as a putrid corpse into the noisome grave.
Again, if faith has the advantage over works by giving them birth, works have the advantage over faith by perfecting it. Seeft thou, says St. James, speaking of the Father of the faithful, how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect ? And if St. Paul affirms, that works without faith are dead, St. James maintains, that faith without works is dead also.
Once more, Christ is always the primary, original, properly-meritorious cause of our justification and salvation. To dispute it is to renounce the faith, and to plead for antichrift. And yet, to deny, that, under this primary cause, there are secondary, subordinate, instrumental causes of our justification, and consequently of our salvation, is to set the bible afide, and Ay in the face of judicious Calvinists, who cannot help maintaining it, both from the pulpit and from the press. † Now if in the day of our conversion
faith + The Rev, Mr. Madan does not fcruple to call our faith “ the inftrumental CAUSE” of our justification. See bis sermon on James ii. 24, printed by Fuller, London, 1761, page 18. And if we shall be justified in the day of judgment By our words, they shall undoubtedly be at least an evidencing CAUSE of our final justification. Hence it is that the fame jud cious divine speaks (p. 30, 1. 4, &c.] of our being “ justified in this threefold fenfe of the word, meritoriously " by Christ, instrumentally by faith, and declaratively by works, which
are the fruits of faith.”
The reader will permit me to illustrate the essential difference there is between primary and secondary causes, by the manner in which David became Saul's son-in-law. The primary causes of this event were undoubtedly, on Gou's part, aliifting power and wisdom ; and on king Saul's part, a free promise of giving his daughter in marriage to the man, who should kill Goliah. The fecondary causes [according to the Rev. Mr. Madan's plan] may be divided into inftrumental and declarative. The instrumental causes of David's honourable match, were his faith, his fling, his stone, Goliah's sword, &c: And the declarative or evidencing causes, were his works. He irtints upun fichia
faith is the secondary, subordinate cause of our acceptance as penitent finners ; in the day of judgment works, even the works of faith, will be the secondary fubordinate cause of our acceptance as per servering saints. Let us therefore equally decry dead faith and dead works, equally recommend living faith and its important fruits.
Hitherto I have endeavoured to check the rapid progress of speculative antinomianism, that perpetually decries works, and centers in the following paragraph, which presents without disguise the doctrine of the absolute, unconditional perseverance of adulterous believers, and incestuous saints.
Saving faith being immortal, can not only fubfift without the help of good works; but no aggravated crimes can give it a finishing stroke. A believer may in cool blood murder a man, after having feduced his wife, without exposing himself to the leaft real danger of forfeiting either his heavenly inheritance, or the divine favour: because his salvation, which is finished in the full extent of the word, without any of his good works, cannot poslibly be frustrated by any of his evil ones,
It will not be improper now to attempt a check to pharisaism, which perpetually opposes faith, and whose destructive errors collected in one position may
ing the giant, he rencunces carnal weapons, puts on the armour of God, runs to meet his adversary, slings a fortunate stone, brings his adversary down, flies upon him, and cuts off his head. By these works he was evidenced a person duly qualified to marry the princess; or, to keep to the Rev. Mr. Madan's expression, “ by” these “ works" he
“ declaratively” judged a man fit to be rewarded with the hand of the princess. Now is it not clear, that his works, upon the evidince of which he received such a reward, had as important a part in his obtaining it, as the faith and Ning by whose instrumentality he wrought the works? And is it not strange that the Rev. Mr. Madan fhould be an crthodox divine, when he fays, that “ we are declaratively jul.ified by works,” and that Mr. Wesley should be a dreadful heretick for saying, that we are saved not by the merit of works, but by works as a condition; or in other terms, that we are finaliy justified not hy works as the primary, meritorious cause; but as a secondary, eridencing, declarative cauce ?
run thos: - If people perform external acts of worThip towards God, and of charity towards their neighbour; their principles t are good enough : and should they be faulty, these good works will make ample amends for that deficiency. - Upon this common plan of do&rine, if the filthy fepulchre is but whitewashed, and the noisome grave adorned with a Howery turf, it little matters what is within, whether it be a dead man's bones, a dead heart swelled with pride, or all manner of corruption.
It is hard to say, who do christianity moft differvice, the solifidians, who assert that works are nothing before God; or the pharisees, who maintain that certain Teligious ceremonies, and external duties of morality are the very foul of religion. O thou, true believer, bear thy -testimony against both their errors ; and equally contend for the tree and the fruit, the faith of St. Paul and the works of St. James; remembring that if ever the gates of hell prevail against thee, it will be by making thee over-value faith and despise good works, or over-rate works and flight precious faith.
The world, I grant, is full of Gallios, easy or busy men, who feldom trouble themselves about faith or works, law or gospel. Their latitudinarian principles perfectly agree with their loose conduct : and if their volatile minds are fixed, it is only by a steady adherence to such commandments as these : - Be not righteous over much :
Get and spend : Marry or be given in marriage : Eat and drink:— Lie down to sleep and rise up to play: - Care neither for heaveg nor hell : Mind all of earth but the awful spot allotted thee for a gravè : &c.” However, while they punctually observe this decalogue, their conscience
+ The ingenious author of a new book, called Ejays on public worship, patriotism, &c : does not scruple to send such an exhortation abroad into the world. “ Let us substitute honeity instead of faith. “ It is the only foundation of a moral character, and it ought to be “ the only test of our religion. It should not signify what, or how « little a man believed, if he was honest.
This would put « christianity upon the best footing." See the Monthly Review for
is sometimes awakened to a sense of corroding guilt, commonly called uneasiness, or low spirits : and if they cannot make it off by new scenes of dislipation, new plunges into fenfual gratifications, new schemes of hurrying business ; if a religious concern fastens upon their breaits, the Tempter deludes them, by making his false coin pass for the gold tried in the fire. If his dupes will have faith, he makes them take up with that of the antinomians. If they are for works, he recommends to them those of the self-righteous. And if some seem cut out to be brands in the church; fiery, persecuting, implacable zealots ; he gives them a degree in the university of Babel : One is a Batchelor of the science of fophiftry, an other a Master of the liberal art of calumny, and a third a Doctor in human, or diabolical divinity : But if all these graduates have not as much faith as Simon Magus, or as many works as the conceited pharisee; yet they may have as much zeal for the church as the bigot, who set out from Jerusalem for Damascus in pursuit of heretics. They may sometimes pursue those, who diffent from them, even unto frange cities.
Has not the world always swarmed with those devotees, who, blindly following after faith without loving obedience, or after obedience without loving faith, have made havock of the church, and driven myriads of worldly men to a fettled contempt of godlinels : while a few, by equally standing up for true faith and universal obedience, have alone kept up the honour of religion in the world ? Take a general view of the church, and you will see this observation confirmed by a variety of black, bright, and mixt characters.
The firit man born of a woman, is a striking picture of perverted mankind He is at once a fullen pharisee, and a gross antinomian : he facrifices to God, and murders his brother. Abel, the illustrious type of converted finners, truly believes, and acceptably sacrifices. Faith and works thine in his life with equal luttre; and in his death we see what the godly
may expect from the-impious church and the pious 'world. Protomartyr for the doctrine of this check, he falls the first innocent victim to pharifaical pride and antinomian fury. The Sons of God mix with the daugh. ters of men, learn their works, and make shipwreck of the faith. Enoch nevertheless truly believes in God, and humbly walks with him : Faith and works equally adorn his character. The world is soon full of misbelief, and the earth of violence. Noah however believes and works : he credits God's word, and builds the ark, This WORK condemns the world, and he becomes heir of the righteousness-which is by FAITH.
Confider Abraham ; see how he believes and works! God speaks, and he leaves his house, his estate, his friends, and native country. His faith works by love : be expofes his life to recover his neighbour's property, he readily gives up to Lot his right of choice to prevent a quarrel, he earnestly intercedes for Sodom, he charitably hopes the best of its wicked inhabitants, he gladly entertains' ftrangers, humbly walhes their feet, diligently instructs his houfhold, and submislively offers up Ifaac his favourite fon, the child of his old age, the hope of his family, his own heir, and that of God's promise: by these works his faith is made perfect, and he deserves to be called the Father of the faithful.
Moses treads in his steps : he believes, quits Pharaoh's court, and suffers afilidion with the people of God. Under his conduct the Israelites believe, obey, and cross the red sea with an high hand; but soon after they murmur, rebel, and provoke divine vengeance. Thus the destruction, which they had avoided in Gofhen thro' obedient faith, they meet in the wilderness thro' the works of unbelief. Nature is up in arins to punish their backslidings. The peftilence, the sword, earthquakes, fiery ferpents, and fire from heaven, combine to destroy the ungrateful, antinomian apollates.