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us an offer thus large; search all the generations of men, since the fall of our first father Adam; find one man that hath done one action, wbich hath past from him pure, without any stain or blemish at all, and for that one man's only action, neither man nor angel shall feel the torments prepared for both; do you think that this ransom to deliver men and angels could be found to be among the sons of men ?"*
Not sincerity. This has lately been adopted into our divinity, as if it were the gracious condition of the new covenant, in opposition to the law of perfect obedience. But it is no where mentioned as such in scripture. So remarkable a variation, in a matter of the greatest importance, from other revelations which God had made of himself, and of the terms of our acceptance with him, had need be very distinctly and expressly pointed out; and yet when the proofs of it are called for, none are produced. It is indeed altogether a claim of human invention, and as it acknowledges defect of obedience, and therefore an absolute forfeiture, it delivers us up to justice, so long as the law of strict conformity to every command of God stands in full force against us. And let the reader determine, after what has been said, whether that law was not designed to be the perpetual standard of the only obedience God will accept from man, or if not, how, or when it was abrogated.
Not faith and works, considered as co-operating to our justification, and both together making a claim of acceptance; for works, which are confessed to have the nature of sin, by those who call in the aid of faith to supply their imperfection, cannot be admitted to any share in your justification, and must be excluded from the idea of it, because the matter turns entirely upon another point, and the great difficulty is still to be removed. Justice must be satisfied, the law must be fulfilled; with all our duties sin is found mixed; and unless it could be supposed that the new cove
* Discourse on Justification.
nant is a relaxation of every preceding one, in respect of God's judgment of sin; and that now, in this last age of the world, he has exhibited himself as acting under a dispensing power, and discharging sin of its guilt, our case is left desperate.
But this is a dangerous expedient, unwarranted by reason or scripture; and we therefore believe, that “ being justified by faith we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord:” And that the whole of what will be accounted our deliverance from the curse of the law, is the righteousness of Christ satisfying the divine justice by his obedience unto death, and, to the praise of the glory of his grace, imputed to sinners for salvation. This is the anchor of the soul, sure and stedfast; our full security against all fears, our first and only justification.
The notion of a first and second justification is the offspring of pride opposing the truth of God. They who adopt it consider not the justice of God, as still existing in all its rigour, and substitute instead of perfection what falls infinitely short of it. But the nature of God and the nature of sin remain always the same; consequently we are as much undone as ever, if gospel mercy extends no farther than to the first benefit of remission of sins, when we are admitted into the christian covenant. Faith is not to be dropped after the beginning of conversion, as a thing of no further use. The just shall live by faith; its utility is to be experienced not once, but always; in every step of our progress, at the hour of death, and at the day of judgment; in hope, comfort, obedience here, and in heaven for ever.
It is not meant that faith has any such effect, or justifies merely as a work of righteousness of our own. No, it consists in a denial of the merit of all works, qualifications, or habits as inherent in man; and the essence of it is an unfeigned humble submission to the righteousness of God, as accounted or given to us, and that not of debt but of
uish an answer to those who ask, Why may not imperfect works justify as well as imperfect faith? taking it for granted that one can be no more perfect than the other. The reason is, that the indispensable condition of justification by works, is their perfection; consequently a claim founded on them must either be made good by an obedience entirely sinless, or the hope of salvation be wholly relinquished. Whereas faith, though it may be weak and imperfect, instead of exalting itself against the justice of God, and standing before him in the confidence of a lie, puts all from itself, and ascribes to God the whole glory of our salvation.
We shall close this little argument with observing, that faith is not understood, much less possessed, if it is not productive of more holiness, and more gracious affections, than could possibly be attained in in any other
way. The charge of vacating the law as a rule of life, followed close upon the first preaching of salvation by faith, and a base suspicion of its being prejudicial to the interests of virtue, is hardly ever to be rooted out of the minds of men, till they experience the power of faith themselves. But this can have no weight with those who remember the authoritative decision of Christ himself in this point upon a remarkable occasion, in opposition to the secret conceit of a proud Pharisee; " to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little."* It is acknowledged, it is strenuously maintained, that the heart of man is exceedingly depraved, and our affections corrupted to the very root: But you charge the nature of man with greater depravity than you are aware of, when you suppose the superabundant love of God, manifested in the plan of redemption, and especially in the wonderful manner of its accomplishment, can kindle no love, and excite no gratitude. On the contrary, it is the peculiar glory of gospel grace, to humble every believer in the dust, and to fill him with the most dreadful apprehensions of sin, in order to raise him from his dead state, and to establish him in obedience from love to God, from holy admiration of bis perfections, and from an earnest desire to be partaker of his blessedness. And if the gospel is not effectual to this end in the Spirit's hands, therein displayed and secured to every sinner who really believes the gospel; if the love of the holy Trinity does not touch every string of our hearts, and put all the powers of our souls in motion to make some suitable returns to the ever-blessed God, our condition is indeed hopeless. We may venture to affirm, that a zeal for works truly christian can be built on no other foundation; and that a desire to perfect holiness will never have a place in the heart of man, but under a sense of redeeming grace, and of the complete salvation that it sets before us.
* Luke vii. 47.
It is therefore greatly to be lamented, that neglect of this doctrine should be so much the characteristic of our age; and that the gospel-motive to obedience should not be more generally inculcated in a christian country. In vain do we hope to revive the decayed spirit of religion, and establish a pure morality on any other than scripture grounds. A spurious kind of it, outward, partial, founded chiefly on love of reputation, with little regard to God, nature itself can discern, and in some degree attain. Poor and low attainment! Yet this is what we are prone to substitute in the place of inward spiritual renovation, to which nature is altogether averse. But true holiness, which consists in profound self-abasement and subjection to the God and Father of our spirits, in love of nature and will, in heavenly-mindedness, in ardent longings after purity of heart, is the genuine product of a lively faith; and I say again, no where to be found, till the ever blessed name of Jesus, his grace and truth, his compassion, dying love, and all perfect obedience, are the meditation, delight, and confidence of the soul.
In this view, and with these sentiments strong upon his mind, the author has endeavoured in the following Treatise to delineate The COMPLETE DUTY OF MAN. His book bears this title not from any arrogant conceit he holds of its worth, but from its comprehending the doctrines as well as the precepts of the gospel, from its placing things in their proper order, and preparing the way to christian practice by christian faith, and to faith by conviction of sin. The attempt may appear to some unnecessary, as THE WHOLE DUTY OF MAN, so called, has long been in possession of general esteem, and is to be found in almost every family. But it is evident that the great thing is wanting in that celebrated treatise, towards obtaining the end for which it was written: since Christ the lawgiver will always speak in vain unless Christ the Saviour be first known. Christian morality is produced and maintained by this principle, "we love God, because he first loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins:” All treatises, therefore written to promote holiness of living must be deplorably defective, in which the cross of Christ is not laid as the foundation, and constantly kept in view, and every duty enforced as having relation to the Redeemer. This is the apostolical method of inculcating christian obedience; and all other obedience is Pharisaical, a mere refined species of self-righteousness.
It is proper to apprize the reader that he is indebted to Mr. Dickenson's Letters for several paragraphs in the chapter on the difference between true and false repentance: and to Mr. M.Laurin's sermons for several fine sentiments in the Chapter On the Foundation of Faith. In a few other places also in the work, where a masterly argument, or a beautiful illustration of the subject which the author was treating occurred, he has taken the liberty of enriching his own work with it.
Nothing further is necessary to be added, but an