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CHA P. III.
O much for the Means of recovering
what was lost by Adam's transgression.
In the entrance on this subject, I cautioned the Reader to keep in mind the distinction between the Means of recovering a loft benefit, and the CONDITION annexed to the enjoyment of that benefit, when recovered, as two different things, to be separately considered, and in their order.
With regard to the Means, (already explained at large,) it hath been shewn, that they were of an arbitrary nature, at God's good pleasure to appoint; unrestrained by any thing he had established in the general system of his moral government of man.
These Means, had not our holy Religion revealed them, could not, otherwise, have been known.
They were the DEATH AND SACRIFICE of his ever blessed Son, Mediating for us.
And now, Man being restored to his forfeited Inheritance, the secure possession of it still depended, as it did in the original
grant, on the performance of a Condi
We have already shewn, Why that firft. Condition was the observance of a POSITIVE COMMAND. Which reasoning, if it have any force, proves, that the new condition, annexed to the recovered blessing, must be the observance of a POSITive COMMAND likewise.
İMMORTALITY (as hath been shewn) was a FREE GIFT, as well when recovered, as when originally given ; which might be bestowed, or recovered when forfeited, on what Condition the Divine Donor should be pleased to annex to it.
Nay, if we consider the nature of the whole economy, we shall find it could not well be given, or restored when loft, on any
other condition than the observance of a positive Command, fince the performance of MORAL DUTY was the condition already appropriated, by Natural Religion, to the procurement of God's FAVOUR.
It is true, had IMMORTALITY not been a free gift, but what Man had a right to, on his Creation, while under the government of Natural Religion, the condition
annexed to immortality might have been
And, indeed, those who so far mistake
But besides the reason given to evince this mistake, another arises from the sacred Writer's not explaining this pretended Allegory : for where an Allegory contains a precept respecting the whole of moral duty, it can never be too plainly nor fully deli. vered. There would be none of this necessity if both the first and second condition of immortal Life were of a positive na. ture, though delivered in allegoric terms which spoke for themselves; for then the chief use of an interpretation had been little more than the gratification of our curiosity
Allow, therefore, the reasoning here offered to explain the nature of the condition annexed
to the free gift (when first given, and when, after forfeiture, restored) to be folid and convincing, and it opens to us the abundant goodness of our Maker ; who, that the possession of this recovered blessing might be no longer precarious, (as it was when firit bestowed, on the condition, to Do or to forbear Doing,) was graciously pleased to change one positive Command for another; and, instead of something to be Done, hath now required of us fomething To BE BELIEVED. From henceforth the free gift of immortality is become more permanent and certain : a GRACE, which the very nature of the new Dispensation would lead us to hope for and expect; whereby IMMORTAL LIFE under the Gofpel, like the FAVOUR OF THE DEITY under natural Religion, is now, when forfeited, to be regained by REPENTANCE.
So much reason, order, and beauty is seen in the various parts of God's moral Government of Man, when compared and explained by one another.
The new CONDITION, as we say, is FAITH IN THE REDEEMER ; or our own
ing and receiving him as the promised Meffiah, by whom alone we are to receive that salvation, procured for us by the Sacrifice of himself on the Cross
And now, we begin to have some reafonable Notion of that great and fundamental principle of Christianity, that FAITH ALONE JUSTIFIETH, or, in other words, is the fole condition of recovering the poffeffion of what we lost by ADAM.
This great Truth, though made the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus, yet (its reason lying hid, or not carefully sought for, and the little of it that was seen being horribly abused) Believers, as well as Unbelievers, have, too generally, concurred in condemning, as absurd in fpeculation, and fanatical and hurtful in practice. But the Divine who hath carefully studied the nature of God's moral or religious Dispensations, throughout all their parts, will be easily disposed to rest the whole of the Christian cause on the reasonableness, the propriety, and even the necesity of this capital Principle.