« AnteriorContinuar »
not in mercy, on accbunt of our condemnation. Yet, if in the immensity of creation there are other orders of rational offending creatures, (which may be the case for what we know,) he might have glorified his mercy in their salvation. Having sent his Son into the world, and all things having been made ready by the redemption and glorification of the great Mediator; he might have withheld from us " the word of the truth of the gospel," which was not in justice due to any one. We then should have " perished for lack of know"ledge;" he would have glorified his justice in our merited condemnation ; and, sending his word of life to other regions, he might have glorified his rich mercy in their salvation. Or, having sent it to uS; when we were, as all are of themselves, indisposed to embrace it with due valuation, and disposed rather to put it from us; he was not on that account bound in justice to do any thing further: he might have left us to our perverse choice, and glorified his justice in our condemnation, and his mercy in the salvation of others, who ' through 'grace obeyed the call.' No claim, of any kind, can be made by a sinner on his offended Creator, till he actually believes with a true and living faith; and then the only claim is grounded on the faithfulness of God to those promises which he has mercifully given, and which by his grace he has enabled that sinner to believe with a true and living faith. Nothing which God has given to any one of Adam's fallen race was, in any sense, due to him: all, and every part of it, might have been withheld, consistently with divine justice, and every other perfection. He has done for us
VOL. VIII. D
all, and given to us all, far more than we had any right to; and as much as in his infinite wisdom he saw proper to bestow, as well as immensely more than we deserve. But in this concern sinners, in their own cause, are not likely to be impartial judges.—" What could have been done more to my "vineyard, which I have not done in it? where"fore, when I looked for grapes, brought it forth "wild grapes ?"' Instead of replying against God, as if he were bound to do more for us than he has done ; it behoves us to bless and thank him for what he has, of his rich and wholly unmerited mercy, done for us; and to beg of him, without ceasing, that we may so profit by his past benefits as to receive, of his abundant grace, whatever is still needful to our everlasting salvation.
'He who hath " trodden under foot the Son of 'God, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of 'grace," that is, he who has rejected the offered 'terms of salvation, is said to be " sanctified by the 'blood of the covenant;" that is, to have been ca'pable of sharing in the benefits of Christ's death.' 2
Do the words, "By whom he was sanctified," refer to Christ, or to the apostate? The opinion of commentators is divided; and it must be supposed that I prefer the former interpretation. It does not appear that the word sanctify is used in the New Testament concerning any persons under the Christian dispensation, except true believers; and especially not to signify those, who merely 'have been made capable of sharing in the bene'fits of Christ's death.' All are capable of sharing in these benefits, if willing to accept of them; and the communication of this disposition, or willing mind, seems not to have been intended. In what sense then had these apostates been ' made capable 'of sharing' the benefit, more than others, who had never professed the gospel? Perhaps their having been baptized may be meant!
1 Isaiah v. 4. » Ref. 197, 198.
'The benefits of Christ's death are not confined 'to those to whom the gospel has been actually 'revealed: that would exclude from salvation all 'who lived before, and the far greater part of 'those who have lived since, the birth of our Sa'viour. If the satisfaction of Christ does not 'reach to the times prior to his incarnation, how 'came it that Abel and Enoch were justified? 'that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are represented 'as sitting in the kingdom of heaven? that Noah, 'Daniel and Job are declared to be righteous men? 'All these, with a long catalogue of prophets and 'holy men, under the Mosaic dispensation, partook 'of die guilt of Adam, and were therefore liable to 'the wrath of God; nay, they committed actual 'sin, for " there is no man that sinneth not." Yet 'who can doubt that these illustrious persons, the 'peculiar objects of God's favour, are all written 'in the book of life < And we are told that " the 'blood of bulls and of goats will not take away 'sins;" that, before the gospel, "there was no 'law which could give life;" and that there is no 'name under heaven by which men can be saved 'but that of Christ:" may we not then conclude, 'in the words of one of our pious martyrs, that '' the promise of God appertaineth unto every 'sort of men in the world, and comprehendeth 'them all; howbeit, within certain limits and 'bounds, the which, if men neglect or pass over, 'they exclude themselves from the promise in 'Christ; as Cain was no more excluded, till he f excluded himself, than Abel; Saul than David; 'Judas than Peter; Esau than Jacob.'''
The case of those, favoured with revelation, before the coming of Christ, has before been fully considered. 2 'The Old Testament is not contrary to 'the New: for both in the Old and New Testament 'everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, 'who is the only Mediator between God and man, 'being both God and man.'3 The gospel was therefore actually, though more obscurely, revealed to them; and they were saved by believing it. In respect of those, to whom, in any age, the gospel has been in no degree revealed; we have no proof that they have any benefit from it; nay, much to the contrary.4 To the quotation here made from Hooper, I will add another from the same writer: ' I be'lieve that the holy fathers, patriarchs, prophets, 'and all other faithful and good people, that 'are gone before us, and have died in the faith, 'through the word and faith, saw Him before'hand which was to come, and received as much 'and the same thing that we receive by the sacra'ments. For they were of the self-same church, 'faith, and law, that we be of.'5—In the eighteenth Article of King Edward VI. it is said, 'They are 'to be accursed and abhorred, who presume to 'say, that every man shall be saved, &c.' The words of Hooper, as quoted by his Lordship, do not mention the case of the gentiles; and it is not at all likely that he referred to it. The gentiles are not noticed in the context, except in these words: 'It was never forbid, but that all sorts of 'people, and of every progeny in the world, should f be made partakers of the Jews' religion and cere
1 Ref. 199, 200. 2 Book I. c. i. § 3. Case of approved
before Christ. * Art. vii. 'Art. xviii.
'Fathers of the English Church, vol. v. p. 467.
* monies.' l By becoming Jews under that dispensation, or Christians afterwards, they would have been interested in the promise of a Saviour.2
'Careth for all alike.' 3—" The Lord careth for "the righteous;" but does he in like manner care for the wicked?" He is kind to the unthankful "and evil."4 "He is good to all:" 5 for " he maketh "his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and "sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."6 But did God care 'alike' for the gentiles, " whom "he sutfered to walk in their own ways," as for Israel, to whom he committed his holy oracles, and abundant means of grace ?" He sheweth his "word unto Jacob, his statutes and judgments "unto IsraeL He hath not dealt so with any na"tion; and, as for his judgments, they have not "known them. Praise ye the Lord." 7 Does he at this time cause "the Sun of righteousness" to arise on all nations, and his Holy Spirit, as fertilizing rain, to be poured out upon them, in the same equal manner in which his sun arises and his rain descends on all? Has he equally cared for the
1 Hooper, ibid. p. 255. 'Rom. ix. 4. 2 Cor. i. 20. Gal. iii. 16.
• Ref. 201. 'Lukevi. 35. 'Ps. cxlv.9. 'Matt. v. 45. 'Ps. cxlvii. 19, 20. Rom. iii. 1, 2.