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If I am not very much mistaken, P. has greatly confounded two very different things, viz. an obligation and an encouragement to believe. The one I suppose arises from the moral law, the other from the gospel. That the encouragements held out to sinners to return to God by Jesus Christ belong to the law, is what I never affirmed. P. has quoted various scriptures in his ninth letter of this nature, and these doubtless are the language of the gospel. But the question is, does our obligation to believe arise from these
encouragements, or from the injunctions with which they are connected? The encouragement of the prodigal to return and make a frank acknowledgment to his father, arose from his father's well-known clemency, and there being bread enough in his house, and to spare; but that was not the ground of his obligation. It had been right and fit for him to have returned, whether such a ground of encouragement had existed or not.
As to those encouragements being improper without a provision of mercy; if it were possible for any returning sinner to be refused admittance for want of a sufficiency in the death of Christ, this might be admitted, but not else. And if by a provision of mer. cy is meant no more than a provision of pardon to all who believe, and supposing, for argument's sake, every man in the world should return to God in Christ's name, that they would all be accepted, I have no objection to it. At the same time it is insisted that no man ever did, or ever can find in his heart to come to Christ, but whom the Father draws. But
more of this hereafter: at present I shall offer a few arguments for the following position;--Though the encouragements of a sinner to come to Christ arise wholly from the gospel, yet his obligation so to do arises from the moral law.
I. All obligation must arise from some law. If therefore our obligations to believe in Christ do not arise from the moral law, they must arise from the gospel as a new law: but the gospel, as P. admits, is simply good news; (5) and news, whether good or bad, relates not to precepts or injunctions, but to tidings proclaimed.
II. Sin is defined by an inspired apostle to be “the transgression of the law."* If this be a perfect definition, it must extend to all sin, and consequently to unbelief, or a rejection of God's way of salvation. But if unbelief be a transgression of the law, faith, which is the opposite, must be one of it's requirements.
III. If love to God includes faith in Christ whereever he is revealed by the gospel, then the moral law, which expressly requires the former, must also require the latter. In proof that love to God includes faith in Christ, I ask leave to refer the reader to p. 53_56, and 120_123, of the former treatise.
P. allows my “reasonings on the extent of the moral law, in p. 188, 189, are very conclusive;" but what he calls “analogical reasonings in this and other
* 1 John iii. 4
places, from the law to the gospel, he cannot think to be equally conclusive, unless the dispensation of the law, and that of the gospel were the same." (67) If I understand what he refers to by analogical reasonings, it is the argument contained in those pages to which I have just now referred the reader. I might here ask, Is what was advanced in those pages answered? I do not recollect that any thing like an answer to it is attempted by any one of my opponents. If the reasoning is inconclusive, I should suppose it is capable of being detected. Let P. or any other person prove, if he is able, that supreme love to God would not necessarily lead a fallen creature, who has heard the gospel of Christ, to embrace him as God's way of salvation; or let him invalidate those arguments in the pages referred to, in which the contrary is maintained. Let him consider also if he succeed, whether he will not in so doing invalidate the reasoning of our Lord to the Jews--" I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
I am come in my Father's name,
receive me not.' That the law and the gospel are two very different dispensations is allowed. The one is a mere inefficient rule, requiring what is right, but giving no disposition to a compliance; the other provides for the bestowment of the Holy Spirit, by which we are renewed in the spirit of our mind. The gospel makes effectual provision for the producing of those dispo
* John v. 42, 43.
sitions which the law simply requires. The law condemr.s the sinner, the gospel justifies him. On these accounts the former is fitly called the LETTER which LILLET, and the latter the SPIRIT which GIVETH LIFE.. For these reasons also with others, the
gospel is a better covenant. All this may be allowed without making it a new law, requiring a kind of cbedience that shall be within the compass of a carnal mind, and different in its nature from that required by the moral law.
IV. Unbulicrors will be accused and convicted by Moses; their unbelief must therefore be a breach of the isw of Moscs. After our Lord had complained of the Jews that they would not come unto him that they mighi have life--that though he was come in his l'ather's name, yet they received him not; he adds, Do not think that I will accuse you unto the Father ; there is one that cccyseth you, even Moses, in whom yje trust: for had yje believed Moses, ye would have believed me. It is very plain I think from this passage, ihat the thing for which Moses would accuse them was a rejection of Christ and the way of salvation by him, which, according to our Lord's reasoning; implied a rejection of the writings of Moses. From hence, increfore, it is inferred, that a compliance with
* Cor. 11. 6.
† John v. 45. . # By Moses' accusing them, I apprehend is meant the law of Moses, which condemns the Jews to this present time for not believing in that prophet whom Moses foretold; Deut. sviii, 18, 19
the gospel is what the law of Moses requires, and a non-compliance with it is a matter for which that law will accuse and condemn. *
* If I understand P. he considers the moral law as a system of government, now no longer in force; and the gospel as a new system of government, more suited to the state of fallen creatures, which hath taken place of it-for he supposes that “ final misery is not now brought upon men by their transgression of the moral law, but by their rejection of the overtures of mercy,” (86.) Final misery we are sure must be brought upon men by sin, be it against what law it may, and whatever law it is, the breach of which subjects us to final misery, that must be the law that we are under. If this is not the moral law, then men are not under that law, nor can it be to us “ the standard of right and wrong.” If the gospel be a new system of government taking place of the moral law, then all the precepts, prohibitions, promises and threatnings, the neglect of which subjects men to final misery, must belong to the former, and not to the latter.
How far these sentiments accord with the scripture account of either law or gospel, let the reader judge. Let it be considered also whether it is not much more consistent with both, to conceive of the former as the guardian of the latter, enjoining whatever regards are due to it, and punishing every instance of neglect and contempt of it. Such a view of things accords with the passage in John v. just cited, and is in no wise contradicted by those scriptures to which we are referred in p. 86. On the contrary, one of those passages, viz. 2 Thes. i. 8. in my opinion, tends to establish it, and is in direct contradiction to the hypothesis of P. Vengeance is said to be taken on men not merely for their disobedience to the gospel, but as well for their ignorance of God, which is distinguished from the other, and is manifestly a breach of the moral law.