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PREFACE.

WHATEVER disputes may have been raised concerning the nature of saving faith, it is allowed on all hands to be one of the most important christian virtues, and essential to the character of a christian.

I am ready to profess that in conformity with the great lights of the primitive church, of our own church, and all the Protestant ones, at the Reformation, and long after,* I understand by it a dependence upon the righteousness and death of Christ, as a full satisfaction to the justice of God for the sin of the world, in the breach of his law; and the sole ground of our acceptance to the reward of eternal life. And if any explanation of this point, now so very offensive to many, should be demanded, the following is humbly submitted to consideration.

Sin is the transgression of the law of the most high God; which law, the moment it is broken, subjects us to its penalty. Of this the punishment of the first sin committed by the first man is a most memorable instance, and stands in the front of the Bible as a perpetual and most important lesson of instruction to mankind, in a point of which they would otherwise have been ignorant; and which, notwithstanding the solemn manner in which it is related, many are very apt to overlook. This fact ought to be particularly remarked, as designed to give us a clear insight into the nature of God, and the nature of sin; and as being the key to all the subsequent discoveries of scripture. For if the sin of eating the forbidden fruit

* See the Confession of Faith of all the Reformed Churches.

cannot be pardoned, though its punishment was so fatal in its consequences, and involved in them the whole race of Adam, it may fairly be presumed that sin must in all cases wear the same appearance in the eyes of an unchangeable God. “He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever:” Every sin therefore, as an act of disobedience and rebellion against him, must be the object of his displeasure at all times, and will for ever separate from him every soul of man, in whom it is found unpardoned.

If you are unwilling to admit this account of the nature of sin, and of the nature of God,-as being contrary to the idea you have framed of him, and derogatory as you suppose to his perfections; it is then incumbent on you to prove, in what age or period of the world, under what dispensation, or new discovery of the will of God, and in what part of scripture you find it recorded, that God has revoked the decree against sin, and made a change in the law given to man at his creation, of life upon obedience, and death in case of transgression. The scripture, on the contrary, in perfect harmony with itself, acquaints us, that at the second promulgation of the law, God appeared in the same majesty and holiness, and with the same denunciation of wrath against sinners, as he did at the beginning: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” On which, let it be observed, that as more than temporal death was necessarily implied in the threatening and curse to the Jews; because that was unavoidably the doom of all mankind, whether they obeyed or not: so it naturally suggests to us, that the first threatening, “ In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” was of the same extent with the second, and its meaning precisely determined by it. In this second sentence, then, there is no relaxation of the first; no contrary declaration concerning the case of offenders, nor the least intimation of any change in the will of God with

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respect to sin. Indeed it would be strange if there should be any; such a variation or inconsistency in the character of God as given by himself, would be an argument of much greater force against the truth of the Bible than any yet alleged. The fact then is certain: “ The wages of sin is death,” and always will be so while God continues the same. What he published and declared at the giving of his first universal covenant to all mankind, in the person of Adam, he renewed and confirmed by the delivery of the law to Moses, which, as St. Paul observes, added because of transgression,* that the desert of them might be known, and, That the offence might abound” † in its penalty and curse unto death, now once more solemnly awarded against every offender and every offence.

These two grand manifestations of the nature and will of God, of the odiousness and great evil of sin, and of the manner in which it is to be treated, are further exemplified in the judgments upon sinners recorded in scripture. Very striking and awful indeed they are; and here we must rest the point for ever, unless we would take upon us, as too many with horrid presumption do, to estimate the guilt of sin from our own false notions of it; to prescribe a law to God, to divest him of his sovereignty, to cavil at his wisdom, and to dethrone his justice.

But let the reason of man, short as it is, be judge in the cause. The decree is gone out from the Almighty, and stands unrepealed in the revelation be has made of himself; “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law, to do them.” Suppose now for a moment we are at liberty to call this decree in question, or to tamper with the threatening, by taking allowance for our sin. What is that sin? And if for one, why not for two or more ; and where will you stop? If once you take the right of judging out of God's hands, * Gal. iïi. 19.

+ Rom. v. 20.

there will be no end of pleading for transgression, no dread of it, no sense of good and evil, no submission to God's rule and authority, no obedience upon earth. The conclusion is evident; if all have sinned, all stand condemned by the sentence of a just God.

The expediency of the remedial covenant of gospel grace, in which mercy and truth meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other, and God is both just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus, is here apparent: and the necessity of dependence upon the righteousness and death of Christ is demonstrated from the preceding account of God's unalterable justice, and of the guilt of sin being the same in all ages of the world. One thing is needful: we must be declared free from guilt, and invested with a righteousness which shall stand before the law of sinless perfection, and entitle us to the kingdom of heaven. And if we have it not in ourselves, where must we look for it, but as existing in the person of Jesus Christ? Dependence therefore upon that righteousness, as wrought out by him for believers, and appointed of God for sinners to trust in, is the precious faith of the gospel by which the soul is justified before God. As no other will reconcile the divine attributes, or answer the exigencies of mankind, concluded under sin, and always sinners; so nothing else must be the ground of our hope towards God.

Not works! Alas! we have none-None that will bear to be weighed in God's balance, or answer the demands of his justice. Look at what you think the best action of your life, or the most excellent grace of your soul; bring it to the touch-stone; examine it by the straight rule of the commandments, considered in their whole spiritual extent, and as reaching the heart and all its motions. In the matter or manner, principle or end, be assured you will find some grievous flaw, and condemnation instead of reward will be your desert. Let the judicious and pious Hooker be heard on this head. If God (says he) should make

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