« AnteriorContinuar »
a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law ? of works? Nay; but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.'
The apostle, Paul, who made these assertions, and who laboured much in all his preaching and writings to establish the sovereignty of grace, is, in this affair, extremely tenacious of the honour of his Master. he asks, maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive ? Now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?' Sinners are not called according to their works, but according to God's purpose and grace, given them in Christ Jesus before the world began. Salvation is of grace; and if by grace, then, he adds, “it is no more of works : otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more of grace: otherwise work is no more work.' On this
important subject, however, I cannot now enlarge : it shall, therefore, be resumed in my next.
I am yours, &c.
What is all righteousness that men devise,
THAT good works can have no place in the justification of a sinner before God, was asserted in my last: want of leisure, however, prevented me from attempting to vindicate that assertion.
I shall now, therefore, in pursuance of my promise, transmit my thoughts on this highly interesting subject.
Good works, performed by the apostate sons of Adam, have no intrinsick merit. The best performances of the most eminent saint are imperfect. They fall vastly short, both in motive and in practice, of what the moral law, which is the rule of duty, invariably requires : and can therefore have no influence
in the article of justification. Every man must see the absurdity of pleading the worth of partial and defective duties in order to answer the demands of a law that enjoins perfect and perpetual obedience. Nay, there never was, in fact, any period or situation in which the works of the first
parent kind could deserve recompense. For, having received all from God, he could display no excellence, nor
any favour, which was not derived from divine bounty. Far from increasing the glory or happiness of his Maker, he could only promote his own felicity and dignity, by exerting his powers in the service of him who gaye them.'
Besides, if we hope to obtain compensation in a way of merit, our services must not be a debt previously due to him from whom the compensation is expected. But this is not the case with angels, much less with rebellious man, respecting the insulted Sovereign of hea
We owe him ten thousand talents, and are absolutely insolvent: or, to use the language of scripture, We have nothing to pay.
The law of God, which is holy, and just, and good; which was adapted to promote our own happiness and his glory, we have violated in a thousand instances. Nor is this all : sin has not only introduced disorder and misery into the moral world, but it has so far debased human nature, as to render us incapable, without foreign aid, of yielding that obedience which it is at all times, and in all circumstances, our duty to perform. This incapafity, however, which is purely moral, can by no means be pleaded in extenuation or excuse. Men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.' All obedience or disobedience is properly, or at least primarily, in no part but the will ; so that though other faculties of the soul in regeneration are sanctified, and thereby made conformable to the will of God, yet obedience and disobedience are formally acts of the will, and according to its qualities, a man is said to be obedient to God or disobedient. If therefore we have lost all inclination to obey the great Legislator of heaven and of earth, he has not lost his right to command universal and perpetual obedi..,