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The doctrine of Scripture concerning the utility of Holiness.
I. The interest of religion is ill consulted by such rugged
interest of religion is
ill consulted by such
manner the learned men explain their mind, which appears with quite another face when the hideous vizard of the most rugged phrases is torn off. Truly I cannot sufficiently admire why the learned men took a pleasure so to express themselves, that nothing but stones seemed to speak; the ruggedness of which piled up in one, well nigh broke the brains of all the hearers. By such a conduct they very badly consulted not only their own character, but also the whole of the reformed religion; which very imprudently, and without any other probable cause, is exposed to the cavils and calumnies of adversaries. Not very long ago, Anthony Arnauld, the celebrated patriarch of the Jansenists, attempted to throw an odium on the doctrine of the reformed churches, as hostile to piety and good works; namely, lest he should by any means be thought to be on Calvin's side. Hence he took for a pretext some of the most innocent expressions of our divines, which by the most unjust interpretation he wrested to a wrong purpose. What would he not have done, if these unusual phrases, and such as are similar to them, had come under his review; and if he had known that their authors were teachers in the reformed church? and I am afraid truly, lest he may have done it, at least in part. See Jurieu Justificat de la Morale, book iii. chap. ii. What an unhappy thing is it, so to speak, and that of determin
ed purpose, that immediately you need a tedi- CHAP. ous explication before simple and candid hearers, and an apology before the less favourable and the suspicious? Since perspicuity is the chief ornament of speech, what hindered, but that omitting all these turnings and windings in obscurity, you spoke clearly from the very beginning, what you might hope would immediately approve itself to the conscience of pious men? But let these things suffice at present, as to the harshness of phrases.
II. In the matter it
self, some things are to be ap
II. In the matter itself, there is that I prove, and what I disapprove. I approve indeed, of the scope of all this doctrine; which has this for its object, that men may be cal- proved, oled off from all presumption upon their own righteousness, and trained up to the exercise of generous piety, which flows from the pure fountain of Divine love. But I do not equally approve, that it seems at least in a great degree, to take from good works all that fruit and utility, so frequently assigned them in scripture. Free justification is so to be consulted, that nothing be derogated from the benefit of sanctification. And as the oracles of the Divine Spirit which speak of the former, are to be explained according to their utmost emphasis, lest the merits of Christ alone be any how diminished; so those which treat of the latter, are not to be extenuated by unnatural interpretations. We must accurately distinguish between a right to life, and the possession of life. The former must so O
CHAP. be assigned to the obedience of Christ, that XVI. all the value of our holiness may be entirely excluded. But certainly our works, or rather these, which the Spirit of Christ worketh in us, and by us, contribute something to the latter. And here again, that excessive rigidity of disputation is inconsistent with the moderation and mildness of the scriptures. Which I shall show distinctly and in order.
something must be done, that
III. 1st, Scripture teacheth that man must ture teach- do something, that he may obtain the possession of the salvation purchased by Christ. "Labour, (said he) for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life," which indeed he interprets afterwards of faith, but so, that there he plainly reduces it to the catalogue of works; for justification is not the subject, John vi. 27-29. And Paul expressly says, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling," Phil. ii. 12. And again, "Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know, that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Cor. xv. 58.
we may be saved.
the way to life.
IV. Neither because Christ is the way to holiness is life, is the practice of Christian piety therefore not the way to life. Christ is the way to life, because he purchased us a right to life. The practice of Christian piety is the way to life, because thereby we go to the possession of the right obtained by Christ. For it is more than a hundred times designed
by the name of life: again the way of righteous- CHAP. ness, the good way, the way of peace; yea, that nothing might be wanting, it is called the way of life and salvation. Prov. vi. 23. " The commandment is a lamp, and the law is light, and reproofs of instruction are the way of life." And x. 17. "He is in the way unto life who keepeth instruction." xv. 24. «The way of life is above to the wise." Psal. 1. 23. «Whoso ordereth his way, I will cause him to enjoy the salvation of God." And what does Christ himself understand by that narrow way which leadeth unto life, Matt. vii. 14. but the strict practice of Christian religion? which is called the way of salvation, Acs. xvi. 17. V. It is certain indeed that the true Christian lives to Christ, that is, to his glory: but it does not follow from thence that he does no
V. That it is not in
own advan tage.
we live to Christ, and thing for his own advantage. It is not con- consult our trary to the duty of a holy man, to desire life, love days, and enjoy good, Psal. xxxiv. 13. Nor did Eliphaz the Temanite advise Job amiss; "pray, acquaint thyself with him, and be at peace: whereby good shall come unto thee," Job. xxii. 21. Nor is it unlawful to anticipate how good it shall be for me if I live to Christ. "It is good for me, to draw near to God," Psal. lxxiii. 28. [26.]
we must do
VI. In fine, it is not inconsistent to do something from this principle, because we live, good beand to the end, that we may live. No man cause we live, and that we