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schemes or systems of morality. It is, that any of these systems a man may understand, embrace and defend, without having his heart made better, or his morals secured or improved by it at all; whereas it is impossible, that any man can really, and from the heart, embrace the doctrine of Christ's imputed righteousness, without being fanctified by it, “ dead to fin, and alive to God.” That the first of these affertions is true, the lives and characters of some noted writers on the foundation of morality, have been, and are an undeniable proof: some of them do in. deed expressly yield it; and it is evidently yielded, by implication, in all the late writings, wliere there is so fre. quent mention of the small influence that speculation has upon practice. On this is founded what a late acute and eminent writer* justly calls the master prejudice of this age, viz. “ The innocence of error.” This may as well be expressed by its counterpart, the unprofitableness or inefficacy of truth, which surely ought to be but a weak reconimendation of what is called truth, by those who hold such an opinion.
That the other assertion is just, hath been the point un. dertaken to be made out in this essay : and whoever will but consider how unacceptable this doctrine is to mankind in general, may be satisfied that there can be no effectual inducement to embrace it, till there be such a discovery and sense of the evil and danger of sin, as is utterly incon. sistent with a voluntary continuance in it. The apparent state of the visible church, in which vice and wickedness fo shamefully abound, will be no objection to this, if what I hinted above be recollected, t that there is a great difference between a nominal or customary profession, and real belief. As to the few more zealous and emi. nent allertors of this doctrine, who sometimes greatly dir. honor their profession, the answer is easy. They are hypocrites, by whom indeed great “offences do come;" and the weak and unstable fall over the stumbling block, and are tempted to doubt the reality of religion, by this disco. very of the fallhood of its professors. But such can never
+ See page 81.
* Ms. Warburton. VOL. I.
be fairly ranked among believers, whose garb and habit they only treacherously wore, for some time, while they were in the interest of another master. * We may say of them as the apostle John says, “ They went out from us, “ but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, " they would no doubt have continued with us, but they
went out that they might be made manifest that they “ were not all of us.”+
But this is not all; for the reception of the doctrine of imputed righteousness is not merely to be considered as
Perhaps some may think the late accounts published of the Moravians an objection to the jultnels of this representation. They are said 10 be great assertors of the doctrine of imputed righteousness; and yet there have not only appeared some bad men amongst them, but they are universally charged as a lect with most impious and scanda. lous practices. Perhaps candor and charity might have led us to fuppose, that most, or all those accusations, were calumnious, if they had been affirmed by none but avowed enemies to the doctrines which they elpoule ; as the first Christians were charged by their eneinies with eating human facrifices, when they met in private to celebrate the Lord's fupper. But the cale it seems is otherwise here ; for some unsufpected accusers have appeared, whom none can imagine prejudiced against them for embracing the doctrine ot imputed righteousness. I confefs nytelf to have so little acquaintance with those Hernhutters, as they are called, either as to their principles or practices, that I cannot very fully handle the subject; but, if there is no other objection to wkat is affirmed above, no doubt, an acquaintance with the true state of the case would enable us easily to remove this. Perhaps, after all, the bad practices charged against them, may be only the confequence of fome designing perfons getting in among them, and a great plurality may be innocent, or, at least, comparatively fo. But however this be, it is not certain (at least to me) that they really embrace the same doctrine with us: they do indeed talk much of the Lamb, speak of hiding themielves in his wounds, &c. but I think their language is peculiar to themselves, and by no means the pirraleology either of Scripture, or of any other feet of Christians. Belides, as Count Zinzendorf, their leader, takes upon him to be a prophet, it is probable, they are just a set of deluded people, drawn away by his art, who may much inore properly be said to believe in him, than in Christ.
[A more perfect knowledge of the doctrines, character and labors of the Moravians, bas demonstrated, tbat, so far from furnishing any objection against the doctrine defended in ibis essay, they most porverfily illustrate and confirm it.]
Note of the Editor. t Jolin ii, 19.
the best means, comparatively, of producing, preserving and increasing our fanctification and purity, as sure and effectual, while others are precarious, but it is the only way, and all others are absolutely infufficient for the purpole. If this be indeed the doctrine of Christ, the scripture-method of salvation, then it is not only true, but a fundamental truth. Of this we are frequently and folemnly assured in the word of God. “I am the way,
(says our Saviour) and the truth and the life; no man “ cometh unto the Father but by me.”* So say the apostles Peter and John, “ Neither is there falvation in any “ other : for there is none other name under heaven, given “ among men, whereby we must be saved.”+ It is therefore in vain for any to expect an effectual change of life, but by an acquaintance with Christ, and him crucified. We have indeed the clearest evidence from experience, that no human reason, no argument whatever, drawn from worldly conveniency, is at all sufficient to contend with violent and sinful habits. We see many examples of persons of excellent understanding and knowledge in other matters, nay, who can reasory strongly and justly upon the bad consequences of vice in others, sometimes even in themselves, who will yet go on to ruin their name, family, fortune and health, while they are slaves to evil habits: nothing will change them but the grace of God.
And as we have seen above, that our own righteousness in its best state is wholly ineffectual for our acceptance with God, so all who have any expectations of this kind from it plainly show, that they have such defective views of the extent and obligation of the divine law, as are inconsistent with an unfeigned universal submission to it. This is a matter of the last importance, and ought to be particularly recommended to the serious consideration of such as may have, at fometimes, some imperfect convictions; such as from a weariness and satiety of finning may give a temporary preference to a life of religion, and raise a feeble and ineffectual wish with Balaam, that they might “ die the death of the righteous.” They ought to be told
John xiv. 6.
f Acts iv. 12.
that no endeavors to be a little better than before, no abstinence from some fins as a kind of atonement for others retained, no resolutions taken in their own strength, no righteousness of their own offered or trusted in as a matter of their justification, will be accepted, or is worthy of being fo ; that nothing will be truly effectual, till they fee their loft condition, and believe in Christ, first for pardon, and then for fanctification, “to the praise of the glory of “his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the be“ loved."* If they have any other plea, any other ground of hope and trust, it shall undoubtedly fail them; they must remain under a sentence of just and legal condemnation, and shall finally perish; for " he that believeth in “ the Son hath everlasting life ; but he that believeth not “the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth “ on him, John iii. 36.”+
* Eph. i. 6.
+ The application of these pasages of Scripture, to the part culas p:inciples above maintained, will, perhaps, be thought to include in it a very severe and uncharitable condemnation of many Chriflians, wilo differ in judgment upon the point of justification. And indeed I pretend no great friendship to the sentiments so frequently expressed of late, “ That it is a small matter what a man bevieves, if his life be I am naturally led to conclude this subject, by observ. ing, that the importance, efficacy and necessity of the imputed righteousness of Christ, Thews how much it is the duty of all ministers of the gospel to make it the main and leading theme of their sermons. The preaching of the gospel is by the apostle Paul, in a very just and expressive manner, stiled preaching “ the unsearchable riches is of Christ.” In him every prophecy, precept, promise and truth is centred. His character and work as a Savi. our is held forth in a variety of lights in the sacred oracles, and in every opening or view that is given us, so to speak, of the dispensations of Divine Providence and grace, he is the chief figure, or the termination of the prospect. If therefore we would know what eiteem is due to our Redeemer in our hearts, and how high a place he ought to hold in our views of religion, let us observe the regard paid to him by the sacred writers. They derive almost all their motives to every moral duty, from what he hath done, and is still doing for us, and seem to delight even in the repetition of his name. I am persuaded those who are accustomed to the devout and serious perusal of the word of God will not reckon it “ enthusiasm," when I say, that these writers appear to be warmed and elevated above their ordinary measure, when they celebrate his falvation; and that both in the Old and New Testament, wherever we meet with any passage fingularly lofty and sublime, there we may be sure that Christ the Redeemer is the immediate theme.
good.” The assertion inight perhaps be allowed, if it did not cortain a foolish and unreasonable suppolition, that a man may believe wrong, and
yet lead as good a life as he that believes right; the contrary to which will always be expected by him who gives credit to the word of God, that his people are “ fanctilied through the truth.” As to Socinians and Pelagians, who are the greatest oppolers of the trutlis above defended, I never did esteem them to be Cbrillians at all; to the consequence, with regard to thein, may be easily admitted. Boc it will be thought hard to say the same thing of the Arminians. However, if the righteousness of Christ is the only ground of our justification, and the reception of him in this character the true principle of fanctification, I do not fee how we can avoid concluding the danger of those who act upon any other plan. And yet I am persuaded there have been, and are many good men among them: which may be accounted for in this inanver, that their bearts are better than their understandings; and they are habitually under the government of principles, which, through some millaken views, and groudleis fears of their abuse, they speak of more Iparingly, or rather seem to establish the contrary positions. The proof of this asiertion I take from their own writings, particularly froin
litterence between their sermons
Justification by the free grace of God, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, was the doctrine taught among Christians, in the earliest and purest ages of the
and other discourses, and those forms of prayer which they have drawn up, and not only recoinmended to others, but left behind then as a witness of their own exercise in their closets. If they be supposed to feel the sentiments which they express in their prayers, it can be easily be made appear that these sentiments can only be dictated by the doc. trine of free grace. If what they say of themselves be true in its natural and obvious meaning, and if they believe it, which charity obliges us to suppose, it must be altogether vain to lay the least stress upon their own righteousness for their acceptance with God.