Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world be, gan.” All these passages tend to prove the unconditionality of gospel promises. The salvation and calling being according to the purpose and grace of God, excludes all conditionality of any works whatever, performed by man. When Christ speaks of his sheep, instead of saying, I offer unto them eternal life,' he says, “I give unto them eternal life.” A gift always presupposes something more than an offer. It presupposes the recipient of the offer to be the actual receiver of the thing offered. He must be the actual receiver when it is called a gift, or it must be made sure to be a gift. An aforementioned text speaks of a salvation, given us in Christ Je. sus before the world began, which was long before the actual reception of the gift, that yet through him was sure to be bestowed. In the same manner was it said of Abraham, “I have made thee a father of many nations, before him whom he believed, even God who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were."

The new covenant that God will make with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, differs from the old, in that it propo. ses no conditions which the people could violate, but stands alone upon the word of Jehovah : "I will put my law in their minds and write it in their hearts." It was also

[ocr errors]

said of Christ without the mention of any condition, “He shall save his people from their sins."

But when I would reason against the idea of any conditions in the gospel, which christian people so generally believe, it is not to be understood but what the gospel embraces the use of means. Whenever a work is designed to be accomplished, or a gift bestowed, the design must necessarily embrace means adequate to the accomplishment of such designs, or in the design, there would be discoverable a want of proper wisdom. The doctrine of faith and repentance is clearly embraced in the gospel as the proper means of salvation. But where in the scripture is faith, or repentance ever called a condi. tion by which eternal life is offered ? I know of no such scripture, and yet our brethren of different denominations insist upon it, in almost every discourse. But they will say, salvation must be on condition, because without condition it cannot come. But this is not a fair conclusion. It is true salvation comes not without them, but this proves not that they are conditions. Should a man of wealth design to erect a building for his habitation, being sensible he possessed means adequate to such design, would his workman think of inferring, because there must be materials and labor, that the erecting of the building is on these conditions ? Perhaps their wages may be on the condition of their labor, but the

condition would then have nothing to do with the building. If the first laborers employed did not fulfil their duty, by the command of their master, they would have reason to expect they must give place to those that would. He that possessed wealth and wisdom would not abandon bis design until he bad accomplished it. It is not at all probable, that Solomon proposed to his workmen, saying, on condition you will perform the several labors 1 allot to you, I will build a Temple. Yet the Temple could not be built without adequate means, tbough there should be no conditions concerning it. So in the salvation of sinners, we find embraced, without conditions, a godly sorrow for sin, faith, repentance, and regeneration or the pew birth. These are the proper means that lead to that end.

One scriptural idea, that merits consider. ation at this time, is how the law, that re. quires nothing but good, may be said to work wrath. "Now tbe law worketh wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression." The law is likewise called a minis. tration of death and condemnation. But it should be observed; when the law worketh wrath, death, and condemnation, it is through disobedience. To the obedient the law worketh life. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Tbe transgression of the law proves wrath to the sinner; it condemns bim by pronouncing him disobedient,

and through his disobedience comes death. We read, “the law entered that the offence might abound.” This was not to increase evil actions, but that sin by the commandment might be exceeding sinful. The law naturally restrains from vice, but where there is transgression, it shows sin in its own deformity. The apostle says, “The commandment which was ordained unto life;" (or rather, which required life,) “I found to be unto death. For sin taking occasion by the commandment deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment, might become exceeding sinful.”

By. this it is easily seen that the manner in which the law proves the ministration of death, is by a perversion of its good things to bad purposes, which the law could not remedy, because it is contrary to its own existence to bestow any thing otherwise than as a reward. It can give nothing freely.

The law of which we have been discoursing and which Christ fulfils, we have found comprised in two commandments, and comprehends the model and ground of all good laws in every branch. This we may consider as comprising the whole body of the common law of all nations, It is always adapter

15

to all cases, and must be referred to where the acts of a civil code do not particularly define. · The law of Moses was a civil code, adapted on this general principle of common law to the situation of the Israelites in those ancient times. If there be requisitions in that law that would be improper for us, at this day, it would afford no argument against the fitness of the law to the situation and temper of that people in their day. The sacri. fices and offerings, required in that law, which pointed to Christ, need continue no longer than till their accomplishment in him. But the common principle of all good law, which is love, can never be repealed. Love, the law requires; and to this end should every branch of a civil code tend. The laws of a people vary, as their situation varies, according to the divine law of love, if calculated for the interests of that people.

From the consideration of our subject, we learn that the law of God requires of every accountable person, which is all people collectively and individually, the greatest love they can exercise toward their Creator, and their fellow creatures. We also find reason to conclude, the law cannot require any thing inconsistent with this principle, or any thing that has not a tendency to lead to it. It can therefore, never require endless misery. The fulfilment of the law is the answering of its requirements aceording to the nature of its de. manels. As its reguirements are love and obe

« ForrigeFortsæt »