Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

safety, or present interest. Or, if the law of God doth now reIf we believe there is a divine quire perfect holiness in heart law binding upon us by the au- and life, on pain of the curse ; thority of God, but entertain we are condemned by it for evegrossly wrong ideas of its tenor ry imperfection for every failand import-if we think it re-ure of perfect obedience or of quires only external actions, but perfect holiness in thought, word has no regard to the temper and and deed, and have no way to exercises of the heart ; we shall escape the curse, but of mere naturally think we keep it, if our grace through the atonement external actions are such as we made by the blood of Christus suppose it requires, whatever Hence, it evidently appears to be the disposition and exercis- be of great importance to us, es of our hearts : and therefore, to understand and believe sound if the law doth really regard the doctrine, the real truth, with reheart, and that primarily and spect to the nature of virtue and chiefly, we shall think we keep vice, sin and holiness, and to it, when we yield no true obedi- the real tenor, import and extent ence, and feel ourselves free of the divine law.. from obligation to that which is 3. The same truth may also principally regarded and requir- appear, if we consider how difed by it.

|ferently we shall naturally feel So likewise, if we think the di- and act, according to the difvine law, in requiring us to ferent ideas which we entertain love our neighbors as ourselves, of our own character and statę, means only that we shall love or of the character and state of our friends and those who love mankind. us, but hate our enemies, when If we verily believe, that we in truth it requires us to love our are in a fallen, guilty state, dead enemies, to bless them that curse in sin, and under a righteous us, and to do good to them that sentence of condemnation, and hate us ; we shall naturally think that there is no way of deliverwe keep it when we live in the ance and saivation for us, except habitual, allowed transgression of of the free and sovereign grace it. Or if we think the divine of God, through the mediation law, as in force with respect to and merits of Jesus Christ; mankind in their fallen, impo- this view and belief will naturtent, depraved state, requires ally tend to make us feel that our only such sincere, imperfect obe-l present condition is awfully dandience, as we are now in all re- gerous and threatening, and net. spects able to perform ; then, in to be rested in that we are lost case we think we perform this for ever, without the interposisincere, imperfect obedience, we tion of divine power and grace shall naturally conclude that we for our recovery ; that this is of do as much as the divine law infinite importance to us; and doth or can reasonably require it will accordingly tend to excite of us in our present circumstan- us to inquire and seek or cry for ces ; and accordingly feel as mercy, with great earnestness. though we were justified in the Whereas, if such as now mensight of God on the ground of tioned be our real character and our own obedience. Whereas, I state ; and ye, nevertheless, think that we are not in a fallen, | ture, or assumed a human body, guilty, condemned state, to be &c. sure, that we are not totally de- A third opinion is, that he is a praved, but have, at least, some mere man, and had no existence remains of moral goodness, and before his conception by Mary ; are capable of securing the di- and that he died, not as a substivine favor and our own happi- tute for sinners, to make atoneness ; we shall accordingly feel, ment or satisfaction for their and be likely to act, as though sins, but as a martyr, &c. our danger was comparatively If a man is utterly undetersmall, when, in truth, it is ex- mined in his own mind, which ceedingly great.

of these opinions is true ; he 4. "The vast importance of must feel himself greatly emsound doctrine may further ap- | barrassed, as to the respect and pear, from a view of the embar- homage which he may and rassment and pernicious conse- ought to render to Christ. quences, naturally resulting1 If we verily believe that Jesus from ignorance of the truth, or | Christ is a divine person and holding essentially wrong opin- really by nature God, we shall ions, concerning the person and feel ourselves obliged, and be character of Jesus Christ. naturally led, to pay him the

Among the professed believ- respect and render to him the ers of the New Testament, there homage, due to God; which, in have been, and still are, more case he is a mere creature, especially, three materially dif- would be idolatry. But if we ferent opinions concerning the think he is a mere created bereal character of Jesus Christ. 1 ing, however great, or a mere One is, that he is by nature God, man, we shall not dare to renthe second of three divine per- der to him we shall deny and sons in the Godhead ; and that withhold from him, the rehe assumed the nature of man spect and worship due to God; into personal union with his which, in case he is truly God, divine nature, so that he is both we ought to render to him. God and man in two distinct na- | Moreover, If we think, with the tures and but one person. This Socinians, that Christ is a mere is called the orthodox opinion man, and died, not as a substior faith.

tute for sinners to atone for their Another opinion is, that Christ sins, but only as a martyr, to is not by nature God, though seal with his blood the truth of vastly superior to any mere man his doctrine, and to set us an ex-that his superior nature was ample of patient suffering for as really created by God, as righteousness' sake ; we shall any other creature that he is place no dependence on and have the first and by far the greatest no regard to his death as an atonecreature which God ever made, ment for our sins ; vut shall enand taken into some peculiar re-deavor to establish our own right. lation to or union with God, eousness, as the only ground of though not a strict, personal un I justification and a title to 'eterion ; and that he in time be- nal life ; and thereby, if the orcame united to the human na-thodox opinion is true, exclude

ourselves from any benefit by

Christ, considered as a Redeemer sent ? Surely the opinion of one and Saviour. For trusting in our or the other must be fundamentown righteousness, repentance, (ally and essentially erroneousvirtue and obedience, as the not merely different from, but ground and procuring cause of directly opposed to and subverour acceptance with God, is evi-sive of the real truth, dently inconsistent with trusting 5. The great importance of in the righteousness of Christ as sound doctrine may also appear, the only foundation of our justifica- from a view of the perplexing tion. He who trusts in his own difficulties and pernicious conrighteousness to intitle him to sequences attending or nathe favor of God, does by that f' turally following from ignorance very act reject the righteousness of the truth, and essentially erof Christ, and must fail of accep- roneous opinions, respecting the tance, if his own righteousness way and terms of acceptance proves insufficient. So an in- with God. spired apostle appears to have Is it not evidently of high and taught. « Behold, I Paul say un- unspeakable importance to deto you, that if ye be circumcised, | pendent creatures, and especialChrist shall profit you nothing. ly to fallen, guilty creatures, to For I testify again to every know whether there be any way man that is circumcised, that he in which they may have accepis a debtor to do the whole law. table access to Godany terms, Christ is become of no effect un- on which they may have accepto you, whosoever of you are stance with him ?--and if any, justified by the law; ye are fal- | what they are ? len from grace.” Gal. v. 2, 3, 4. With what distressing anx.

How every way interesting iety and painful uncertainty, do and important, then, must it be the scriptures represent a guilty to us, to understand and believe man inquiring, wherewith he and embrace the truth, with res- |shall come before the Lord, and pect to the person, character bow himself before the high and mediation of Christ, as stat- God? “Shall I come before him ed and exhibited in the sound with burnt-offerings, with calves doctrine, delivered by him and of a year old ? Will the Lord his apostles ? Christ's words in be pleased with thousands of John xvii. 3. plainly import, rams, or with ten thousands of that eternal life consists in and rivers of oil ? Shall I give my is connected with the knowl- / first born for my transgression, edge of the only true God and the fruit of my body for the sin Jesus Christ, whom he hath of my soul ?". Micah vi. 6, 7. sent. But whilst two persons Certainly a creature, conscious hold, opinions, concerning the and thoroughly convinced that person and character and work he is a sinner, and as such deof Christ, so directly contrary to serving and exposed to the one another, and so mutually dreadful wrath of God, must be subversive the one of the other, painfully solicitous to know wheas the orthodox and the Socini-ther it be posible, and if so, how, an, is it possible that both should or in what way, or by what have the true knowledge of God means, it is possible, that he and Jesus Christ, whom he hath I may be pardoned and accepted of God. And if he is totally igó, believing as the church of Rome norant or utterly at a loss as to believes and conforming to its what is the truth in this respect, rites and ceremonies ; Whilst, he must feel himself in a very in truth, these things imply a perplexed and painfully embar-rejection of Christ and his rightrassing situatioti.

eousness, and are an abominaThe sound doctrine of the tion in the sight of God; it will pospel, well understood, would then be readily seen, that such at once relieve him from this persons are pleasing themselves painful embai'rassment and per- with the hope of future happiplexing difficulty ; and on this ness, whilst they are pursuing account, in this view, it of great the way which leads to death, importance that it should be and are in great danger of perclearly exhibited, and well un- ishing in their delusion. derstood.

| Or if any think the way to Again, If men are ever so make sure of eternal life, is to well satisfied, that there is a way, I believe firmly that they are alin which they may be accepted ready justified by the righteousof God and happy in the worldness of Christ, even before they tớ come, but entertain essentially repent that God is already wrong ideas and opinions about | their reconciled God and Father; it, the consequence may be fa- who hath forgiven their sins and tálly pernicious. If, like the promised them eternal life, and Pharisees and many of the Jews, under the influence of this bea any think the only way of ob- lief, to rejoice in him and love taining acceptance with God and and praise and serve him ; and eternal life, is by virtưe of their if at the same time, the truth is own obedience and good works, that no one is actually pardoned and accordingly, go about to es- and justified before he repents tablish their own righteousness ; and believes in Christ; it is theri whilst, in truth, this is impracti. evident, that all such persons cable, and the only way of sal. are in great danger of deceiving tation is by virtue of the atone themselves by the belief of a. ment and righteousness of Ilie. Christ, through faith in his Or if any think that Christ blood ; it is easy to see, that hath actually purchased etěr they are in the utmost danger nal life for all mankind, and wili of perishing for ever, whilst in fact, sooner or later, put all they view themselves as being into actual possession of it, in the sure way to everlasting whatever be their tempers and happiness. Or if any think the conduct during their abode omr sure way to happiness is by the earth ; they will of course masses, and prayers to saints believe themselves sure of eterá and angels and the virgin Mary, nal happiness, though they live to intercede for them by auri- in sin, and continue impentitetit cular confession and penances, to the last moment of their lives. and giving farge sums to priests But if this be a mistake, and or to the church, to obtain abso- directly contrary to the truth of lution from their sins, and ex. the gospel, it will probably exmption or deliverance from prove a most pernicious mistake, the pains of purgatory, and by and, to them who retain it to the

last, issue in their most awful | apt to indulge and justify themdisappointment and utter ruin. selves in gross enormities and

These several cases, out of abominable iniquities. Witness the vast variety which might be the case of the Pagan nations, mentioned, are stated, as sam-as stated by Paul in Rom.i. ples, to show, that essentially erro- And where the gospel is, in a neous and false notions respect- measure promulgated, and a ing the way or terms of accept- general belief of it professed, ance with God, tend to and are they who do not carefully attend naturally productive of the to it, and understand and pay a most fatally pernicious conse-conscientious regard to its inquences ; and thereby to illus- structions and precepts, appear trate the vast importance of a to think it warrantable, to inelear exhibition and right idea dulge to and do many things of the truth or sound doc- contrary to the plain tenor of its trine, with respect to the all-im- doctrines and commands ; and portant article of the way or to live in the habitual neglect of terms of acceptance with God. many things which they ought Mistakes respecting this point to do, and which, according to are far more dangerous than the plain tenor of the scriptures, respecting many others. For if they are indispensibly bound to we essentially err and fail here, perform.. Instances of this kind or ground our hopes on an es- may be seen in those who think sentially different foundation to it right and warrantable to ren

the rejection of the true, and der evil for evil, in the way of · persevere in the mistake, we are private or personal revenge to

lost for ever, however knowing hate and persecute their ene. and or thodox we may be in ma- miesto settle disputes and seek ny other points. What then, satisfaction for insults and injucan be more important to man- ries, by duelling or other open kind, than a right understanding violence to take advantage of and belief of the sound doctrine, the weakness, wants, or ignothe pure and uncorrupted truth' rance of others, to advance their of the gospel, respecting the on- own interests at others' expense ly way of acceptance with God? | to dissemble, and even to conAnd what, of course, can be more tradict the truth and utter falseimportant to be clearly and hood, when it appears to them plainly preached ? Once more, I highly necessary for their own

6. Sound doctrine is of great interest or safety--to neglect the importance, to assist us in judg- payment of their just debts, ing what we may and ought to though in their power to pay do, or to forbear and avoid them, and to violate their con

Our own reason, depraved, tracts and engagements, when selfish, and prejudiced, as we it appears to them convenient are, is a very imperfect and de- and greatly conducive to their ceitful guide. Men, who form worldly interest to neglect the their opinions of what they may support of the poor-to withor ought to do or to forbear, in- hold or evade, as far as they can dependently of or without any without greater pecuniary loss, assistance from the sound doc- the legally required contributrine exhibited in the gospel, are I tions, for the support of govern

VOL. VI. NO. 4.

R

« VorigeDoorgaan »