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therefore, consisted in the exercise of his faith and dependence on God, and the complete subordination of his sensual appetite to his spiritual affections. His trial was, whether he would so far believe in God, as to look forward to the complete attaisment of spiritual happiness according to the Divine plan, and in obedience to the Divine command; or seek a happiness for himself, by applying for it to a forbidden object of temporal gratification ; " of which the tree in question must have been an emblematical representation.” The grand trial was, in short, what it ever hath been, and ever will be, till the world shall cease to exist, a trial between earth and heaven; whether things visible or things invisible should have the preference; whether Adam would walk by sight, or by faith. Adam chose the former, and in consequence fell. Under the new covenant, which succeeded to the fall, man's trial is of a similar kind. Through the Mediator of this covenant, the immortality lost by Adam has been restored by Jesus Christ; but still on certain conditions. To Christians, Jesus Christ may be considered as standing in the place of the tree of life: and their trial is, whether they will go to Christ in faith, repentance, and obedience, for that happiness which has been graciously provided for them; or whether they will go to the world, that tree of knowledge of good and evil, and seek it from those gratifications of sense which it holds forth, continually tempting and seducing them into the path of death. Under the Gospel then, as under the first dispensation in Paradise, eternal life is “the gift of God.” No claim of
right consequently can in one case more than in the other, be maintained on the ground of service performed; the possession of the gift under each dispensation, having been suspended on conditions analogous to the circumstances of the party. According to the tenor of the Gospel covenant, "eternal life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ;"* whilst the works of a Christian, performed in faith and sincerity, though not his title to salvation, are still to be considered as his qualification for it; on which account they have been made the conditions on which, for the manifestation of God's honour and glory in the regeneration of his fallen creature, the covenant of grace has been made to depend. “For (says the Apostle) we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”+ We have a supernatural principle of new life conferred on us through faith in Christ, by which we become enabled to perform those good works which God has ordained as necessary to salvation, according to the terms of the Gospel covenant.
Not being able to speak more plainly upon this subject, were I to write a volume, I cannot but flatter myself that my readers will think further enlargement unnecessary.
I shall therefore tres, pass upon their patience only, whilst I make a brief remark or two on the objections that you have brought against the foregoing position.
You say (what nobody, it is presumed, will deny) " that the law always was that it now is, and ever Rom. vi. 23.
† Ephes. ii. 10.
and it is the same with the Gospel.” But, Sir, I conceive that the different circumstances which man may be in, does alter the nature of the law so far as it respects him. The law, it shall be allowed, is the same in itself; but the language of the law to man in innocence, and to man fallen, differs in this respect; to the one it prescribed a duty, which, through the infirmity of his nature he was enabled to perform; to the others, a duty which he cannot perform; therefore, whilst to the former it might in some sense have been a law of life, to the latter it must be a law of death.
You describe the law and Gospel thus: “ The former says, obey and live; the latter, believe and be saved.” If you mean thus to contra-distinguish the law from the Gospel, by opposing the obedience of the one to the belief of the other, I conceive your distinction to be in no sense correct, and certainly not scriptural. For the faith or the belief of the Gospel comprehends under it obedience, otherwise it is not true Christian faith.
To prevent, therefore, that deception which upon so delicate a subject, has prevailed more or less in all ages of the Church, by which part of the Gospel has been taken for the whole of it, I conceive your
definition should have been worded thus; the law says, “Obey and live." The Gospel, “Believe, obey, and be saved.”
But you go on to say, “that obedience to the commandments of the moral law has been totally excluded from having any thing to do in the business of a sinner's pardon and acceptance.”
Give me leave to ask, when and by whom was
obedience to the moral law excluded? Was it excluded by our Saviour, when he told the young man, that if he would enter into life he must keep the commandments? Was it excluded by him, when, at the conclusion of his sermon upon the mount, he said, “ Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."* Was it excluded by the Apostle, when after treating at large of justification, as it were to prevent all mistake upon the subject, he concluded thus: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid. Yea, we establish the law.”+ The Apostle established the law, by proving that the substance corresponded to the shadow; that in Jesus Christ all the legal types had been fulfilled, and consequently that he was the end of the law for righteousness: and as he established the typical law, by proving it to have been fulfilled in Christ; so also did he establish the moral law, (which had been restored by Christ to its spiritual meaning) by making it an essential part of the Gospel dispensation, where he says to his disciples, « In Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision,” “but the keeping of the commandments of God.”I
“Lave to God and our neighbour (you proceed to say) are the fruits of being brought into a state of salvation through Christ alone.”
They certainly are so, because these fruits are not produced but by men in that state. But though
Matt, vii. 21.
the fruits of the Spirit are the consequence of man's being brought into a state of salvation, yet they are not the necessary consequence of that important event; for if they were, then every man brought into a state of salvation would be what that state was designed make him- mina spiritual man.
But facts prove this not to be case. Therefore, by man's being brought into a state of salvation, and by his being in a state of final acceptance with God, two very different things are meant. It is to a want of proper discrimination between man's initial and final savation, that the confusion which has so frequently prevailed on this subject may be attributed. Fallen man is brought into a state of salvation by baptism. With his admission into this state, his works can have nothing to do. It is a state of salvation provided by the free grace of God, to the partaking of which nothing is required on the part of man but a profession of faith in a crucified Saviour. One of the grand privileges annexed to man's admission into this state, is the renewing of the Holy Ghost; in other words, the restoring to man that spiritual assistance by which
be enabled to lead that holy and religious life, which can alone qualify him for admission into a better world. By this Divine assistance, fallen man has a power, according to the tenor of the tenth Article, “to do works pleasant and acceptable to God.” Now as God doeth nothing in vain, it cannot be a matter of indifference, whether the object for which the renewing of the Holy Ghost was granted, be accomplished or not. It follows then, that if God has vouchsafed to man under the Gospel covenant,