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fearching into their actions. For, in particular instances, these may have been imperfect, and even faulty, through the greater corruption of nature which some have to struggle against, or the greater temptations to which others have been exposed, or the peculiar disadvantages under which a third fort have laboured, while their general conduct hath been right. Besides, in most cases, the bad actions of those who have a sincere desire to please God, having through invincible ignorance, been performed under the notion, perhaps, of service done to God; or if performed contrary to knowledge and conscience, having been speedily repented of by the believer, God will graciously forgive them for the sake of Christ, and will accept of their faith, or general disposition to please him, which led them to an habitual course of virtuous, though not sinless conduct, as if it were a perfect righteousness; and will reward them from pure favour, on account of the meritorious obedience of Christ.
4. By making faith the condition of our justification, the gospel teaches, that however good any action may be, as to the matter of it, if it does not proceed from faith, that is, from an habitual regard to the will of God, and from a sincere desire ta please him, in the hope of obtaining those rewards, which the lights of nature and of revelation, encourage pious men to expect from his goodness, (Heb. xi. 6.) it is neither a moral nor a religious action. It is the mere effect of natural disposition, or perhaps of something worse ; for instance, a desire of the praise of men, or a regard to one's own present interest; and therefore it will avail nothing to one's acceptance with God.
5. Lastly, The gospel, which hath made faith working by love, the condition on which God will justify men in the way of favour, is attended with this advantage, that while it establisheth good works on the firmeft foundation, and giveth them all the weight and importance in the Christian scheme which really belong to them, it beats down men's pride, by making them senfible of the imperfection of their virtue. And thus taking away from finners all pretensions to merit, it constrains them humbly to receive the great bleslings of justification and salvation, as free gifts from God through Jesus Christ, and lays a foundation for their gratitude to God, and love to Christ, throughout the endless ages of eternity:
SECT, Sect. V. Of the Time when Believers are justified. Many of the inextricable opinions with which theologians have perplexed themselves, in pretending to reconcile the doctrine of the apostles Paul and James on the article of justification, originate from the notion, that believers are justified in the present life. And I acknowledge, that what Moses hath written concerning the justification of Abraham, according to its obvious meaning in modern language, seems to imply, that he was justified at the time he believed in the Lord. I acknowledge also, that what Paul hath written concerning the justification of believers, seems in like manner to imply, that they are justified in the present life. Nevertheless, I hope to make it evident, that neither Moses nor Paul meant to teach any
1. To shew this, my first argument shall be taken from the nature of justification. To be justified, in the scripture sense of the word, is to be acquitted from the charge of having broken the law of God, either by omitting the duties which it enjoins, or by committing the fins which it forbids ; confequently, it means to be freed by the fentence of God, from the punishment which they incur who break his law. Accordingly the Westminster Assembly in their Shorter Catechism, have rightly defined justification, “ An act of God's free grace, wherein he
pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his So fight,” But as the whole of a man's life is a state of probation, the sentence of acquittal, in which justification consisteth, must proceed upon an examination of all the deeds men have done in the body, during the whole course of their trial. Wherefore, if the sentence of acquittal is passed immediately on a man's first faith, which is the opinion of Eftius, Whitby, Locke, Taylor, and others, on the one hand, and of the Antinomians, and of some Calvinists, on the other, we must either hold, with the first mentioned learned men, that the acquittal respects only the fins committed by the believer prior to that first act of faith ; or with the last mentioned persons, that it comprehends not only the believer's past fins, but all those also, which he may happen to commit afterwards, till his death,
The first of these opinions, namely, that justification consists in the pardon of the fins committed previous to believing, labours under this inconveniency, that by connecting the pardon of, paft sins with men's first faith in the gospel, we are led to think, that some may be justified and pardoned with respect to all their past fins, on whom no change of dispositions hath passed, por will pass; as was the case with Simon Magus, and many others in the first age, who were baptized and made an outward profession of faith in the gospel. The same is the case likewise with many in every age, who speculatively believe the gospel to be a revelation from God, and yet are not influenced thereby either in their temper or actions. I ask, Will wicked persons, who die impenitent, not be punished for the fins they committed previous to their first faith in the gospel ? To resolve the matter into the sovereign pleasure of God, will not account for his pardoning such persons : because if at any time God forgives the fins which men have committed, while they contipue in these fins, he acts contrary to his perfections, and to his character as the righteous Judge of the world.-Besides, if the future punishment of sin is to arise in part, from the existence of evil dispositions in the mind of the finner, those who live and die in their fins, must be miserable in proportion to the number and strength of the evil habits which they carry with them into the other world; these not being diminished in the least by their supposed first pardon. Wherefore, that finners are pardoned in any period of their life without repentance, and that the fins which have been thuš pardoned, will neither be punished in a future ftate, nor be the instrument of the finner's punishment whọ dieth in his fins, being opinions which stand in opposition to the declared laws of God's government, and to the established course of things, they ought not to be adopted on a few expresfions in fcripture, which easily admit of a different interpretation. But to induce us to embrace fuch opinions, the plainest and most unambiguous affertions ought to be produced from the inspired writings, in confitmation of them.-To all these considerations we may add, that if the speculative belief and out, ward profession of the gospel is sufficient, without repentance, to procure for finners the pardon of all the fins they have com.
mitted previous to their believing the gospel, Why may not the same kind of faith continued in, procure for finners without repentance, the pardon of all the fins they commit through the whole course of their life? In short, the doctrine of a first and second justification, the one by faith, and the other by works, though patronised by many great names, being contrary both to fcripture and reason, ought to be exploded.
The second opinion concerning the justification of believers in the present life, is, that the pardon granted immediately on their believing, includes not only their past fins, but all the fins which they may afterwards commit during the whole course of their life. But to this notion of justification, it may with great propriety be objected, that it represents men's future actions as judged, and their fins as pardoned, before they exist. Or, if this form of the doctrine is too absurd to be maintained, it must at least be allowed, that a justification which includes the pardon of all future fins, very much resembles a Popish bull of indulgence, and gives men too great a liberty of finning; consequently it can be no doctrine of the gospel.—The Antinomians indeed endeavour to remove this objection, by afferting that the eyil actions of believers are not in them fins, neither doth God consider them as such. Or, to use their own expression, Gid fees no fin in believers. But the impiety and folly of this affertion, is too glaring to need any laboured confutation. Sin is fin, by whomsoever, and at what time foever committed : and if not forsaken, will most certainly be punished.
2. My second argument to prove that men are not justified in the present life, shall be taken from experience; and it is tris : Since justification is an act of God's free grace, in which he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous, if believers are pardoned in this life, they must in this life be delivered from the punishment of fin, that is, from diseases and death, and every evil which at the fall was inflicted on mankind, as the punishment of Adam's fin. The reason is, a pardon which leaves the finner under any part of his punishment, is no pardon at all: at least it is not a full pardon. He may have an assurance of pardon given him in the promises of the gospel : 'but while any part of his punishment is continued, he
can no more be said to be pardoned, than a prisoner can be said to be freed from his confinement, who is detained in prison. A believer also, may in the promises of the gospel have an affurance of God's love, together with peace of conscience in the prospect of pardon, provided he perfeveres in faith and holiness. But ftill this is not pardon; for as was said before, pardon confifts in an actual deliverance from all the penal consequences of fin, both in the present, and in the future life.
Farther, one's acceptance as righteous in the fight of God, consists in his being rewarded as a righteous person. If so, this part of justification doth not take place at present. None of the children of Adam, were ever in this life thus accepted as 'righteous in the fight of God, except Enoch and Elijah, who on account of their fingular faith and holiness, and to thew what justification is, were translated in the body to heaven ; whereby they were freed from death, the punishment of an, and put in the imme, diate poffeffion of a blessed immortality, the reward promised to the righteous. Since then, believers are neither delivered in this life from diseases and death, nor put in poffession of the joys of heaven, but only in the promises of the gospel, have an assurance that these blessings shall be bestowed on them at Christ's second coming, it is evident from experience, that no believer is justified in the present life.
3. A third argument, to shew that believers are not justified in the present life, arises from those passages of scripture, in which justification is represented as a thing future. Of these the principal are, Rom. ii. 5. Revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every one according to his works, &c. Rom. viii. 24. We are saved in hope. Now hope feen, is not hope : For what a man seeth, how also can he hope for it? 25. But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with patience for it, Gal. v. 5: We, through the Spirit, look for the hope of righteousness by faith. Wherefore, righteousness is not counted to us through faith, in the present life; and our salvation is a thing future, being the object of our hope, and will not be accomplished till Christ's second coming
4. A fourth argument is, if believers on their first act of faith are justified, that is, judged in the present life, and acquitted