« PreviousContinue »
look his Maker in the face, and say he has neither part nor lot in his great falvation. Faith, as an evidence of things not seen, would gainsay every word of such a rash declaration, bring hirn in culpable of fallehood, and make him retracc every. word even in the court of conscience; and “who " against faith and conscience can be heard infal“ lible (says Milton); yet many will presume." The Psalmist said in his heart, All men are liars; but he that believes is not to make hafte, nor such hasty conclusions, Isa. xxviii. 16; for faith comes in as a deliberate evidence of the truth, and gainsays the whole of it, as may be seen in the Psalmist, This is my infirmity.
Ahimaaz. But if God's grant give me a right, and if faith secures the inheritance to me, as the scriptures that you have quoted plainly prove, for they say, that God gave it to Abraham by promise; and if they that are of the law be beirs, faith is made void, and the promise of none effect; and again, for as many as are of faith are biesled with faithful Abraham, this is plainly proved.-But then, why is a man said to obtain a right by doing? Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may bave right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. Rev. xxii. 14.
Cushi. Take heed that you never expound one scripture to contradict another; if you do, you will make a jargon of the sweetest harmony, charge divine rectitude with inconsistency, and the God of
order with confusion. Wisdom says, My mouth shall Speak truth, and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are in righteousness ; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. Prov. viji. 7, 8, 9. Now, to lhew you the meaning of the above text, first I will grant it you in your own sense, and see how the current of scripture will harmonize with your opinion. We will suppose that a man, in a state of nature, never had commitced an actual transgresa sion; though God declares that all have sinned ; yet, for arguirent's fake, we will add to that man abstinence from sin that he has observed every precept of the law externally, and lived exactly to that rule; . yet God has concluded all men in unbelief. Rom. xi. 32. And what says God of his workswhatSoever is not of faith is fin, Rom, xiv. 23; and again, without faith it is impossible to please God. Heb. xi. 6. And what says the Judge himself of such a man~be that believeth not mall be damned. Mark xvi. 16. What says God of his human righteousness—wo to them that cover with a covering, but not of my Spirit, that they may add fin to fin. Ifa. XXX, 1.
The grand points of the law are two, that a man love God with all his heart, and his neighbour as himself ;-on these two commandments bang all the law and tbe prophets. Thus you see all the law hangs on the hinge of love ; but what says God of
the natural man? why, that the carnal mind is enmity against God; that it is not subjeet to the law of God, nor indeed can be. Therefore the Holy Ghost concludes, that if a man have all knowledge, and understand all mysteries, and speak with the tongue of men and angels; and if be give all his goods to feed the poor, and bis body to be burned, and hath not charity, or love, it profiteth him nothing. I Cor. chap. xiii. He is still of the works of the law, and as many as are of the works of the law are under the curfe ; for by the deeds of the law ball no flesh living be justified. Thus you see that your legal construction upon that text runs foul of half the word of God. Is not this darkening counfel by words without knowledge ? Job xxxviii. 2. Will not God say of you, that ye have not spoken ibe thing that is right of me ? Job xlii. 8.
Now let me shew you my opinion of that text. What is God's command concerning Christ and his gospel ? The text, you know, mentions doing his commandments. Why he says, I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee [Moses], and will put my words in his mouth, and he mall speak unto them all that I hall command bim. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he mall speak in my naine, I will requite it of him. Deut. xviii. 18, 19. John brings this in, And this is his commandments That we mould believe on the name of his son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us com
mandment. mandment. I John iii. 23. Now, suppose God should open the door of faith to a man, Acts xiv. 27; and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness in him, and the work of faith with power, 2 Thef. i. 11; infomuch that God should purify his beart by faith; Acts xv. 9; would not the above commands be obeyed by such a man ? be bath received grace (by Christ) for obedience to the faith, Rom. i. 5; or, in other words, he hath been enabled to believe through grace; or, by God's gracious gift of faith, he is enabled to believe and obey the gospel.
Abimaaz. Certainly the above commands are done, or obeyed, by such a man; because, as you say, he has received grace for obedience to the faith; and if the grace of God doth not produce obes dience to the doctrines of faith, what does ? John says, This is the vietory that overcometb the world, even our faith ; but the world always overcomes an unbeliever, and ever will. It is faith that parifies the heart; and he that is deftitute of this grace is filled with guilt, enmity, and errors, and therefore as far from doing the commandments as Satan hijnself.
Cushi. Very true. Well, you find that all the law and the prophets hang on the hinge of love ; but no man 'by his natural power can reach this hinge, because the carnal mind is enmity. Now, suppose God should fulfil this promise to a man, namely, circumcise his heart to love the Lord God with all his heart, and with all his foul, that he 6
might might live, Deut. xxx. 6, and enable a man to say, as John did, we love him because he first loved us, --and such a man doth in his heart love both God and his neighbour-would not such an one do the commandments, seeing the scriptures declare, that love worketh no ill to his neighbour, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law ? And what says God of the faith of that man ? why, he that believes Mall be saved. And what says the Holy Ghost of the love of him ? why he says, he that loveth dwelleth in God, and God dwelleth in him.
If this be the truth of the matter, does not such a man do the commandments? when God himself works in him both inclination and motion; or, to speak in the dialect of scripture, it is God that works in him both to will and to do of his good pleafure. Phil. ii. 13. And if it be God's work in him, what has such a man to glory in but the grace of God ? Faith is the gift of God, and the work of God; this is the work of God, i hat ye believe or birt whom he hath sent. John vi. 29. It is real faith in Jesus Christ, and pure love to God, that produces evangelical obedience : as it is written, the grace of God teacheth men to deny ungodliness and worldly. luft, and to live foberly, righteously, and godly, in the world. Tit. ii. 12. Therefore we may conclude, that whosoever does not attribute bis obedience to the grace of God, robs God of the glory of his own work; and he that ascribes it to free-will and human power, deifies himself.