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"Depart from me,
than the workers of iniquity. ye workers of iniquity." The difference between doing good and doing evil according to another declaration of our Saviour, is no less than this:
They that have done good shall come forth unto the resurrection of life; they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." Can a greater distinction be made, or expressed in words more plain? All the preceptive part of our Lord's teaching, especially his whole sermon upon the mount, may be alleged on the same side of the argument. And to substitute belief in the place of the duties there enjoined, or as an expiation for the offences there forbidden, even when persevered in, would in effect set aside the authority of the lawgiver. Why did our Lord command and forbid these things (or indeed any thing), if he did not require obedience as a condition of salvation? Again, every thing which we read concerning repentance implies the necessity of good works to salvation, and the inconsistency of bad works with salvation: for repentance is a change from one to the other, and can be required upon no other supposition than this. But of repentance we hear continually in the New Testament, and from the first to the last of the great mission of which it contains the history. John the Baptist began with it before our Saviour's own ministry commenced, and as the introduction to that ministry. His call to the Jews who resorted to his preaching was to "repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." That practi
cal virtue made an essential part of what he meant by repentance is not left to be collected from the mere import of the word or nature of the subject, which yet might show it sufficiently, but is expressly by himself declared, "Bring forth fruits meet for repentance;❞—and when particular classes of men come to inquire of their teacher what they should do, his answer was a warning against those particular sins to which persons of their class and character were most liable, which is his own application of his own principle, and is, so far as the instances go, a direct and clear exposition of his meaning. All proves that a moral change, a moral improvement, practical sins, and practical virtues, and a turning from one to the other, was what he included in the awful admonition which he sounded in the ears of mankind. What his forerunner began with our Lord followed up, in the same sense, and with the same design. "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel." As our Lord preached repentance himself, nay, made it the burden of his preaching, so he sent out his Apostles to do the very same. He called the twelve, you read, and began to send them out, two by two. And, thus sent, what were they to do? "They went out and preached, that every man should repent." After our Lord's departure from the world, the Apostles carried on exactly the same
plan of religious instruction. They had learnt their lesson too well and too deeply to change its essential part. Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins." " Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." "The times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men every where to repent." This is the explicit language the Apostle held upon the subject of repentance; which, as hath already been observed, has a precise reference to a good and bad life; and these texts deliver no other judgement concerning the matter than what their great teacher had pronounced before. By comparing Saint Paul's words with other Scriptures, we cannot overlook that well-known text of Saint James: "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and not works; can faith save him?" Saint James doth not here suppose the man hypocritically, and for some sinister purpose, to pretend to believe what he does not believe. The illustration which follows plainly supposes the belief to be real, for he compares it to the case of the devils, who believe and tremble. Now we are to remember that Saint James's words are Scripture, as well as Saint Paul's. Here, therefore, is a text, which precisely, and in the most pointed terms, contradicts the sense which the Solifidians put upon Saint Paul's words.
Again, a sense which virtually sets aside the obligation and the necessity of good works cannot be the
true sense of Saint Paul's words, because it is contrary to at least one declared end of Christianity itself. The office and design of the Christian revelation is set forth in the following texts: "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." By the phrase, "the grace of God that bringeth salvation," is undoubtedly meant Christianity. Then for what purpose hath it appeared? To do what was it published? The text goes on to tell us, namely, that it should teach us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works. That was his object, or at least one of his objects, and the mean towards it was to teach us, that denying all ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. Our Saviour himself had before told his disciples, "that he came to call sinners to repentance;" and repentance, as already hath been noticed, bears a necessary relation to good works and bad works. Agreeably hereunto, the benefit and blessing of Christianity, as a revelation, is described by the Apostle Peter to consist in its converting efficacy; for addressing the Jews upon a very signal occasion, and a very short time
after our Lord's ascension, when every thing was fresh in his thoughts, he speaks thus: "Unto you first, God, having raised up his son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities."
The question, you remember, is what Saint Paul meant, or rather, strictly speaking, what he did not mean, in the several texts that have been cited in this discourse, and which are usually cited by those who may be called the advocates of faith, in contradistinction to good works. Now, although it may be a reasonable method of showing that a man's words are not to be taken in the sense which the letter and terms of the sentence may seem, at first sight at least, to convey, in order to prove that such sense is inconsistent with what is delivered by authority as great as his own, or greater, and inconsistent also with the main drift and purpose of that very institution, in the administration of which, and as forming part of which, the texts in question were written- although these points may be fairly brought forward in argument, yet the straight and clear way of showing, in any case of difficulty, in what sense a writer intended that his words should be understood, or rather in what sense he did not mean them to be taken, is to look to what himself has elsewhere said upon the same subject, and more especially to what he has said in the same writing. For though a man may advance what is contrary to sound reason, what is contrary to other authority, nay, what is contrary