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and give them a gracious, unmerited, and eternal reward, as he has abundantly promised in his word.
2. It appears from what has been said, that men were forgiven, pardoned, or justified, under the Old Testament, on the same ground that men are under the New. We know that men are now pardoned or justified on the sole ground of the atonement of Christ. The apostle expressly declares, that God justifies men freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. And it appears from what has been said, that he justified or pardoned men under the Old Testament, on the same ground. Though he promised eternal life to all who obeyed his commands, yet he did not promise to pardon or justify them for their obedience, or good works. For he taught them to offer vicarious sacrifices, which typified the atonement of Christ, for which alone he pardoned or forgave their sins. And this demonstrates, that they were pardoned or forgiven on some other ground than their obedience to the divine commands; for if they were pardoned for their obedience alone, there was no occasion for their offering yearly and every day sacrifices, which were expressly said to be offered to make atonement for their sins. That those sacrifices were typical of the atonement, which Christ was to make by his sufferings and death on the cross, the apostle has clearly proved in his epistle to the Hebrews. And there is no doubt but that the penitent Jews viewed them in that light, and exercised faith in the promised Messiah. This is confirmed by what the apostle says concerning the unbelieving Israelites who perished in the wilderness.“ Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” “ For some, when they had heard, did provoke; howbeit, not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years ? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Here we are told, that the gospel was preached under the Old Testament, and that some believed it, while others rejected it. Those that believed were pardoned and justified; but those who disbelieved were condemned and destroyed. Though God promised eternal life to all upon the ground of their obedience, yet he did not promise to pardon or justify ther, unless they cor
dially embraced the gospel which was preached to them through the medium of the vicarious sacrifices, which typified the atonement of Christ, the sole ground of pardon and justification. All that ever have been pardoned and justified, under either the Old or New Testament, have been pardoned and justified in precisely the same way, and on the same ground. Though men have been rewarded for their obedience and good works, yet they have never been pardoned or justified on any other ground than the atonement of Christ.
3. It appears from what has been said, that the Socinians maintain a great and fatal error. They suppose that Christ was a mere man, and did not suffer and die as a vicarious sacrifice, to make atonement for sin. Of course they maintain, that men are pardoned and accepted in the sight of God, on account of their obedience or good works. This they endeavor to prove by two principal arguments. One is, that God is morally obliged to pardon sinners on account of their repentance and obedience. And the other is, that God did actually pardon sinners under the Old Testament on account of their repentance and obedience, without any atonement. infer from his promising eternal life to all who obeyed his commands. But ihis argument is fully refuted, by the vicarious sacrifices for sin which God required all men, from Adam to Moses, to offer; which, if they had any meaning, typified the atonement of Christ, without which there is no remission of sin. To deny the doctrine of atonement through the vicarious death and sufferings of Christ, is to oppose the whole current of scripture; and is subversive of the whole gospel, which has always been preached from Adam to this day.
4. This subject teaches us that the doctrine of pardon or justification by works, is both unscriptural and dangerous. I know that Arminians do not choose to say that men are justified for their works as being meritorious, and as laying God under obligation, in point of strict justice, to pardon and save them. But they are willing to say, that God does graciously forgive, pardon and justify them on account of their good works. This they strenuously maintain, in opposition to the doctrine of justification through the atonement of Christ alone. It is easy to see what leads them into this error. It is a supposition that God pardons men upon the same ground upon which he rewards them. They plead in favor of their opinion, that God promises eternal life to all who obey his commands, and that he actually rewards men for their obedience. They refer to his rewarding the two servants, who faithfully employed their talents; and more especially to the representation that Christ gives of the decision of the great day, when he says he will
bestow eternal life upon the righteous for their good deeds of charity and mercy. This argument looks plausible, but is entirely fallacious, if what has been said is true, that God does not pardon men upon the same ground upon which he rewards them. And it appears from the whole current of scripture that he does not. It is only on the ground of Christ's atonement, that he does, or can pardon sin. But he can and does reward men, in mercy, for their obedience and good works. Though we have no right to deny the premises of Arminians, yet we have a right to deny the consequence which they draw from their premises. For though it be true, that God can and does reward men for their obedience and good works, yet it is false to say that he pardons or justifies them for any thing but the atonement of Christ. Their false doctrine is extremely dangerous, because it directly tends to lead men to build their hopes of pardon and salvation upon the ground of self righteousness, which Christ and the apostles every where condemn. Self righteousness destroyed the Pharisees, and well nigh ruined Paul himself. It is totally inconsistent with depending on Christ alone for salvation.
5. In the view of this subject, we may easily discover what it was that led the Jews into the fatal error of expecting to be saved by their strict observance of the various precepts and commands which God had given them. They did fall into this dangerous error. The Pharisee did, that went up to the temple to pray; and so did Paul before his conversion. Their error was owing to their ignorance. They had lost the knowledge of the true spirit, meaning and design of the Mosaic dispensation. They made no distinction between the moral law and the ceremonial law, which required them to offer those sacrifices, which were typical of Christ, and pointed out the ground of pardon through his atonement. They observed the ceremonial law just as they observed the moral law, and expected to be pardoned and saved by their obedience to both, without faith in Christ, who was preached to them by the vicarious sacrifices which they were required to offer, to make atonement for sin. This error Paul embraced, and supposed that in respect to the law he was blameless. But after he had discovered and renounced it in himself, he discovered and lamented it in his Jewish brethren. He speaks very feelingly and tenderly upon the subject. “Brethren, my heart's desire, and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record, that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the
end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man who doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise: that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” “ For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all, is rich unto all that call upon
him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The apostle here lays open the whole cause of his brethren's expecting to be saved by their own righteousness, or obedience to the law of Moses. It was owing to their ignorance of the justice of God, which requires an atonement as the sole ground of pardon and justification; to their ignorance of the typical sense of the ceremonial law, which pointed to the atonement of Christ; and to their ignorance of the difference between the ground of pardon and ground of reward. Their false teachers had explained away the whole spirit and design of the Mosaic dispensation. And this led them to disbelieve and reject the gospel as Christ and the apostles preached it, in consistency with all the laws of Moses. And to convince those who vainly imagined that the law and gospel were inconsistent with each other, the apostle demands, “ Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid; for if there had been a law given, which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterward be revealed. Wherefore the law was our school master to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” The whole Mosaic dispensation was designed and suited to lead men to the knowledge of the way of pardon and salvation, through the atonement of a Saviour to come.
But the Jewish teachers, through ignorance, perverted and explained away the spirit and design of the Mosaic dispensation; and instead of showing that it was a school master to teach the way of salvation by Christ, they employed it as an unanswerable objection against the gospel. And many besides the Jews in former times, and the Socinians in modern times, have been equally ignorant and erroneous in respect to the doctrine of justification through the atonement of Christ alone.
6. We may justly conclude from what has been said, that though believers are pardoned or forgiven on Christ's account, yet they are not rewarded on his account. It is generally acknowledged by Calvinistic divines, that believers are pardoned or forgiven on the ground of Christ's atonement; but some of them maintain that they are rewarded for his obedience. Or in plainer terms, they suppose that believers are rewarded for Christ's obedience, as really as they are forgiven or pardoned for his atonement. This appears to be not only an error, but a palpable absurdity. We can see a good reason why God should pardon or forgive believers solely for Christ's sake, or entirely on the ground of his atonement, which rendered it consistent with his justice; but it appears very absurd that he should reward them for Christ's sake, or entirely on account of his obedience, in distinction from their own. Christ obeyed for himself, and believers obey for themselves. They are truly virtuous and praiseworthy for their own obedience; but they are not virtuous or praiseworthy for his obedience. God may with propriety express his approbation of their virtuous obedience, by giving them a gracious reward; but it is absurd in the extreme to suppose that he graciously rewards them for Christ's obedience. This supposition is not only repugnant to reason, but contrary to the whole current of scripture. We have made it appear, we trust, sufficiently plain, that God has abundantly promised, both in the Old and New Testament, to give eternal life to all who obey his commands, on their own account; and not on account of Christ's obedience, or sufferings. And we feel well satisfied that this scriptural doctrine never has been, and never can be refuted.
Finally. It is easy for sinners to see, in the view of this subject, what they must do to inherit eternal life. They often put this serious and important question, as though they could not answer it, and as though they could find no answer to it in the Bible. This can be owing to nothing but blindness of heart. They have often heard and read both the Old and New Testament, in which the way of life to sinners' is plainly pointed out. There never has been but one way, in which sinners could obtain eternal life. They never could atone for their own sins, nor do any thing that merited salvation. But they have always been able to love God with all their heart, to repent of sin, and to believe in Christ, and rely upon his atonement, as the sole ground of pardon and justification in the sight of God. This is the only way of salvation revealed in the Bible. In this way sinners have been saved, both under the Old and New Testament. This is a plain way of salvation. For every sinner knows that he has transgressed the holy and righteous law of God, which threatens eternal death as the wages of sin; that he cannot atone for the least transgression; that he must rely upon that atonement which Christ has made by his sufferings