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more, in the'Scripture Sense of it, but a conditional Promise, humbly accepted on our Part, of signal Favours from the Hand of God: That the Favour proposed, in the Gospel Govenant, is no other than Eternal Life: and lastly, that the Condition required is a Compliance with those Terms which our Saviour Christ has thought fit to impose. What these are must be known from his own Words: what they are not, may be known, in many Instances, from the Light of our own Reason.—That Faith in some Sense, is of the Number, no Man can doubt who believes the Gospel. In what Sense, and with what Propriety, is the Point we are now to examine. —And for this Purpose I can think of no readier Way, than immediately to produce that remarkable Passage, in which the indispensable Necessity of Faith is most clearly, and most expressly taught. I shall attempt to free it from those Interpretations, which appear to me absurd and irrational; to discover a different Interpretation, which may be agreeable to Reason ; and lastly, to establish the Truth of it, and to prove that the very Words of our Saviour will bear no other without Violence.— When this is done, I see not what can be wanting to the rational Support of my Third and last Proposition.


The Passage itself runs thus, He that believetb—Jhall be saved but he that believeth not, damned.

Before I inquire particularly into the Meaning of these Words, I must observe, ift, That Salvation is, jn Effect, the very fame Thing with Remission of Sins; they only being saved, whose Sins are forgiven, zdly, Tha^ both these Expressions coincide with that other, of entering into the Kingdom of Heaven, or of inheriting Eternal Life. Thus we find (in Matth. xxv.) the blessed Sentence, Enter into the Kingdom prepared for you (which Kingdom appears from the Context to be Life eternal) is indiscriminately pronounced on all Those, who escape Everlasting Condemnation. The Scripture knows no intermediate State; but places all Mankind on the Right-Hand, or on the Left: $dly, It follows from hence, that every Person, whose Sins are forgiven, will partake in the Grand Benefit annexed to the Covenant of the Gospel. And, \thly, That all those, who fail of obtaining GotpelRewards, must inevitably suffer Gojpel-Punishments.

This being premised, we shall be better able to consider the various Interpretations of the Passage before us; and to discover their Agreement or Disagreement with the Principles of Right Reason.

G 2 Now

Now the first and most obvious Sense of the Words is this; that all Believers shall be saved, and all Unbelievers damned, without any Exception or Restriction.

But whatever be the Meaning of the Words in Question; this, we are sure, is not the Meaning.—If it were, we must suppose Men's final and irreversible State to depend on a Qualification not in their own Power. For surely it is not in Men's Power to believe in a Gospel of which they have never beard; and how small a Proportion of the Inhabitants of this Globe, if we reckon from the Creation to the present Times, have ever heard the Name of Christ? It would follow manifestly from this Supposition, that the greater Part of Mankind came into the World without a Pqfiibility of avoiding Damnation. A Consequence highly injurious to the Wisdom and Goodness of Almighty God! An Assertion theresure, which necessarily infers such a Consequence could not proceed from the Mouth of our Saviour.—From the same Supposition it would likewise follow that the most flagrant Sinners were in a safe Way to Salvation. For such Men are certainly to be found in the Number of those who believe in Christ. But this also is repugnant to the Persections of God, and therefore could not be affirmed by the Son of God.


Again, both the Parts of the Text, so interpreted, plainly contradict other Texts: those, I mean, which make Holiness a necessary Qualification for Heaven j and those which represent God's Goodness as without Limits, and without Partiality. But the Scripture cannot contradict hself; and therefore our Saviour could not mean what this Interpretation supposes.

Lastly, If we consider the Words themselves, we {hall find them plainly referring to the preceding Verse. But the preceding Verse requires a Restriction. For, in an unrestrained and literal Sense, the Apostles neither did nor could preach the Gospel to every Creature. The following Verse therefore may on this Jingle Account be justly confined to those Persons, among whom the Gospel was aSlually preached. Whoever extends it further than this, extends it further than the Words will bear.

A zd Interpretation is this, That they who believe and obey the Gospel, are intitled to God's covenanted Blessings; but that all Unbelievers, whether before or since the Coming of Christ, whether virtuous or vicious, will be intirely excluded. To guard against the Difficulties of the last Interpretation, the Defenders of this are not unwilling to grant, that possibly some lower Degrees of Favour, G 3 some some unknown and uncovenanted Mercies may be finally reserved for good Heathens.—According to which Notion Faith in Christ is, in a strict and literal Sense, an indispensable Condition of the Gospel-Covenant.

But neither is this a true Interpretation. If we attend to Reason, we shall never be brought to believe, that God should promise and bestow peculiar Favour, on any other Ground than peculiar Virtue. Christians therefore cannot be happier, unless better than other Men. And, notwithstanding what has been observed under the 2d Head, yet it seems very improbable that the wisest Heathen, supposing him equally well-disposed, mould fall short in Persection of the meanest Christian.— Let it not be said that Christians mail be favoured on Account of their Relation to Jesus Christ; since a causeless Deviation from the Rule of Distributive Justice, is what neither He could ask, nor God bestow. Notwithstanding the Prevalence of a contrary Opinion, it seems to me most evident that Revelation asserts the very fame Thing. For thus I argut—The Title ot a Christian to covenanted Blessings solely arises from the Covenant itself; from the express Promise of Almighty God. If then this Promise extend to Unbelievers, they too have a Covenant Right. But now this Promise extends to all those, who obtain


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