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revealed account of a future judgment, are comprehended in this one act of faith, that he “ should believe in the name of Jesus CHRIST;" we cannot be surprised, that persons who have formed no adequate conception of the Christian scheme of salvation, considered not only as providing a redemption from the immediate consequences of the fall, but also means for the restoration of the fallen creature, to that spi. ritual state which can alone qualify him for a spiritual inheritance; should, by taking part of the Gospel for . the whole of it, fall short of the perfection to which it was designed to lead.*
* The following is a specimen of the doctrine propagated by one of those self-constituted itinerant teachers, who, to the mis. fortune of this country, the abuse of toleration, “ that glory and disgrace of Protestantism," as it was called by a late learned Bishop,t is now pouring forth upon us; the channel from whence I received it leaving me no room to doubt of its authenticity. “The regular Clergy know nothing of Christianity; their whole preaching is, work, work. They do not know, you cannot work. You must wait your call-and for your comfort I tell you, it is never too late. If on your fick-bed you can call out on the name of Jesus, or groan Jesus, or even whisper Jesus with your last breath, you are safe.” How far such a mode of preaching (and I have reason to think it to be by no means an uncommon one) is calculated to promote the two great ends of religion,--the honour of God, and the welfare of mankind,--the reader will judge. Grieved am I to think, that the lower order of people in this country, who, generally speaking, are well disposed to religion, should be liable to be thus deluded.
+ Bishop LowTi’s Sermon before the Society for promoting the Gospel. 1771.
Faith in the all-fufficient merits of a crucified droom Redeemer, must, by all who receive the Gospel, be admitted as the Christian's only hope; it being his only title to salvation. Through the door of faith, the Christian disciple is admitted into the church; as a member of the church, he is entitled to all the benefits of the Christian dispensation. These benefits are, redemption from a state of certain condemnation, and a restoration to a state of possible or conditional salva. tion; together with a gracious provision of aslistance to make that salvation sure. But whether this state of possible or conditional salvation through Christ may become a state of aftual salvation to the believing party, must depend upon the use made of the means vouchsafed for that purpose. For although faith is the leading condition of salvation, and the foundation of all Christian graces and virtues, upon the Gospel axiom, “ that without CHRIST we can do nothing," yet to represent faith as constituting the completion of the Christian character, upon the idea that it neceffurily comprehends under it the performance of all Christian duties, is what the scripture, I conceive, no where warrants, and what experience continually contradicts. A writer, who has latelyfavoured the world with his thoughts on this subject, and with
whom every Christian must wish to join in opinion, has told us, " that true faith is in fcripture regarded as the radical principle of holiness.” Thus far
every one who understands the Gospel must agree with him. But when we are told by this fame writer,* that where the root exists, the proper fruit will be brought forth, we feel ourselves called upon to deny the conclusion; because it may lead to consequences fatal to the cause it is designed to serve. Nor does the proof brought from St. James, in support of it, strike me in the light in which it is placed on this occasion. St. James has always appeared to me to speak, not of a man who merely says that he has faith, and has it not; but of one who actually possesses faith, but a faith unavailable to falvation, in consequence of its being unaccompanied by its correspondent effects. The reader, by turning to the chapter referred to, (James ii.) and reading from the 14th verse to the end of it, will be qualified to judge for himself.
Christian fruit, it is allowed, can grow only on the Christian tree. But it does not follow, (as it has been above observed) that where the root of this tree exists, there the fruits of it will necessarily be brought forth. These are by no means conver
* WILBERFORCE's Practical View, p. 122.
tible propositions. To represent them as such, is to say in other words, that principles and practice always go together; whereas the fact is, through the deceitfulness of the human heart, they are too often at variance with each other. And the general language of scripture agrees with this position; in which faith and works, the tree and its fruits, are so clearly distinguished from each other, that no man who considers that the Bible, as containing a Divine revelation, must be uniform and consistent in all its parts, can, it should be supposed, be at a loss for his conclufion.
It is true, faith is often represented in fcripture as the completion of the Christian plan of salvation, And so, when taken in its full and finished state, as made perfect by works, according to St. James's description, it certainly is. But we are now guarding against a mistake, to which an unqualified use of this term often leads.
When our SAVIOUR laid the foundation of his religion, he annexed falvation to faith; because faith in him was the basis of that plan of salvation which he came to publish to the world. When St. Paul told the Jews that they must be saved by faith, and not by the works of the law; and that the Gospel alone contained the power of God unto salvation
unto every one that believeth; his object was to oppose the new dispensation, whose basis was faith in CHRIST crucified, to that old one which CHRIST came to take away; because, in consequence of the fall, man was no longer in a condition to be saved by it. Upon the Jew renouncing all dependence upon his own righteousness, and professing his faith in Christ crucified, as the author and finisher of his salvation, he was admitted into the privileges of the Gospel covenant. But in this case his faith was, as ST. IGNATIUS calls it, “ the beginning or the principle of his Christian life.” It gave him admission into the Christian church. Now had ST. PAUL thought, that where this principle was once esta blished, it would of course draw after it all those graces and virtues necessary to render it effectual to salvation; in other words, had he thought that the faith, which gave admission into the church, would of course make the party a perfeet member of it, he . would not have furnished his disciples with that complete system of moral duties which is to be found in his writings. If he had thought that faith included under it Christian practice, his direction to Titus, that the constant subject of his preaching should be, « that those who believed in God (those