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promises of an eternal inheritance through CHRIST, and of Divine affiftance to qualify us for it, "let us cleanse ourselves from all filthinefs of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of GoD:" in other words let the work of the Holy Ghoft, to whofe affiftance the difpenfation of grace has given us a title, be carried on to perfection in our hearts; and fo fhall the work of reconciliation between GoD and man be rendered complete.*
The line of diftinction between profeffing faith and practising faith fhould at all times be fo marked, as to leave a diftinct idea upon the mind refpecting a fubject which has been fo open to misconception. Profeffing faith, it is to be observed, gives admiffion only into the church of CHRIST, and a title to the privileges of the baptifmal covenant. Practising faith, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, is what renders that admiffion a title of real value; by producing that renewal of our fallen nature, which fecures our inheritance of eternal glory.
Words need not be multiplied to convince the reader, that these are two very different things, and that the one does not neceffarily comprehend the
2 Cor. v. 20; vii. I.
other. The remark, therefore, fubjoined by our author to the above paffage, "that faith, where genuine, always fuppofes repentance, abhorrence of fin, &c." p. 328, is calculated to lead into error, because it teaches the reader to take for granted, what must always remain to be proved.
For, allowing that the practical precepts of Chriftianity do grow out of her peculiar doctrines, which is certainly true; yet that they are "infeparably connected with them,"* is a pofition not to be admitted: for in fuch cafe faith and practice may be confidered but as two words for the fame thing; and it becomes impoffible for profeffors "to hold the truth in unrighteousness;" which ST. PAUL tells us fome did in his days, and which, in confequence of the corrupt nature of man, fome will do in a greater or less degree in every ftage of the Chriftian church. The learned Bishop BULL has fo clearly stated this fubject, as to render further enlargement upon it unneceffary.*
*WILBERFORCE, p. 382.
"Quod jactant de inftrumentalitate fidei in juftificationis negotio, nihil etiam quam meram et inanem fubtilitatem redolet. Proterquam enim quod extra fcripturas hic loquuntur, fi inftrumentum ftrictè et propriè fumatur pro causâ efficiente minus principali, clarum eft, fidem juflificationis inftrumentum nullo modo dici poffe. Nam primò, cum juflificatio fit actio Dai folius, eaque tota extra noş
The Gospel scheme of falvation can then only be complete, when the whole of it is taken together; when each part of the Christian obligation, comprehended under the general terms of faith, repentance, and obedience, is fuffered to have its due weight in the fcale of human estimation.
In a word, that man is not to be faved by any works of righteousness of his own, because, in confe
producta, quomodo vel fides noftra, vel quævis nostra actio ad juftificationis effectum producendum phyficam allam efficientiam habeat, prorfus anaτanπrov eft. Deinde omnis caufa inftrumentalis, (ut jam innuimus) fuo modo in effectum influit, eique effecti productio proprié attribui poteft. Jam veró, cum juftificatio nihil aliud fit quàm gratiofus DEI actus, quo peccata noftra nobis condonet, ac nos ad falutem acceptet, valdè abfurdum effet dicere, vel fidem, vel opera noftra, vel quidvis aliud noftrî, aut remittere peccata noftra, aut perfonas noftras acceptare; quod tamen, fi inftrumentalis caufa juftificationis fides fit, planè difcendum effet. Etiam fi igitur concederemus, habitum fidei effe inftrumentum iftius actûs quo CHRISTUм amplectimur; qui tamen inde intulerit, fidem effe juftificationis inftrumentum, manifeftiffimæ certè inconfequentiæ reus tenebitur. Ut ergo quod res eft dicam, fi fidem inftrumentum effe velimus, fieri non poteft, ut concipiatur alio modo inftrumentum effe, quám quatenus opus eft ex prescripto, et per gratiam Dei a nobis præftitum. Conditio enim, quatenus præftita eft, aliquo modo medium, five inftrumentum dici poteft, quo confequimur rem, quæ fub conditione promittitur. Et vocatur hoc a nonnullis inftrumentum morale. Et fi hoc fenfu inftrumentum fumatur (nempe pro conditione five inftrumento morali) fidem effe unicum justificationis inftrumentum omnino negamus; cum, ut fatis evincimus, etiam pænitentiæ opera non minus necessaria ad juftificationem obtinendam a Spiritu Sancto diferté ftatuantur."-BULL. Harmon. Apoft. cap. ii. § 9.
quence of their imperfection, they can have no merit in the eyes of GOD, but by what JESUS CHRIST has done and fuffered for him, is a doctrine which cannot be too unequivocally expreffed; at the fame time it 'is to be remembered, that the qualification of the party, through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, is the indifpenfable condition upon which falvation through CHRIST is fufpended.
Satisfied in my mind that there can be no real difference of opinion between this refpectable author and myself upon this matter, he will not, I flatter myself, feel offended at my endeavour to counteract a conclufion, to which certain unqualified paffages, against which the best of writers are not always upon their guard, may poffibly lead. The apparent difagreement between us, (if I have been correct in my remarks) arises from the different idea annexed to faith, confidered either as a comprehenfive term, including under it all the conditions of the Gofpel covenant on man's part, or the fimple act of believing the Christian doctrine, unaccompanied with that fpiritual transformation of the finner, neceffary to render the death of CHRIST effectual to his falvation. These two ideas, applicable to faith in its different Stages, ought at all times to be clearly distinguished, À A
to qualify the Christian to form a corre&t judgment upon this important subject.
The account given by this author of the actual state of Christianity in this country is, it is to be feared, but too true. Vital Christianity we can scarce expect to find at a time, when the meaning annexed to that term is, to the bulk of professing Christians, become unintelligible. In this degenerate ftate of things, every man who feels for the honour of God, and the welfare of the community, must regard with gratitude and respect an author, whose professed object it is to restore this dead thing, modern Christianity, to life and vigour; and, in the scripture sense, will bid him “ God speed.” . But whilst I agree with this author in his account of the declining state of genuine Christianity, I cannot so perfectly agree with him with refpect to one cause, to which the further contimance of that decline is to be attributed.
The clergy of the church, as we have already ob. ferved, soon after the Restoration, with a view to counteract the abuse that had been made of the doctrine of grace, gave into the opposite extreme l'inding the stick bent too much one way, they injudiciously adopted the natural process of bending it the other, with the view of bringing it straight. But