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We have now shewn, ist, That LIFE AND IMMORTALITY is, in its nature, a FREE GIFT ; and that holy Scripture always represents it under this idea : 2dly, That the benefit, which Natural Religion informs us we have to expect from our great Mas, ter, is, fimply, a reward for well-doing : A reward, indeed, which will be abundant; for, though we be unprofitable servants, yet is he a most bountiful Master. But ABUNDANT and ETERNAL belong to different Systems.
Mari, from his Creation, to his entrance into Paradise, was, as hath been shewni, subject to the Law of Natural Religion only. From thenceforth, to his expulsion from Paradise, Revealed Religion superinduced to the Natural, was to be his Guide: whereby, to God's FAVOUR (the sanction of Natural Religion) was added IMMORTALITY (the fanction of the Revealed ;) not on condition of his observance of moral duties; for that was the condition of God's favoir under Natural Religion ; but on condition of his obedience to a positive command. .
But who are they, who, on the recovery of the free gift of immortality, are qualified to claim it ? Certainly none but those who are already entitled to some reward by the Religion of Nature; which Religion accompanies the Revealed throughout all its various Dispensations; and on which, they are all founded
But to make this great principle of JusTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE still more clear, let us suppose that, at the publication of the Gospel, all to whom the glad tidings of immortality were offered, on the condition of faith in Jesus, had been moral or virtuous men; and, on that account, entitled (as natural Religion teacheth) to the favour of God, and an abundant reward; is it not felf-evident, that FAITH ALONE, exclusive of the condition of good works, would, in that case, have been the very thing which justified, or entitled to life everlasting ?
But are good works, therefore, of no use in the Christian system? So far from that impiety, good works are seen, by this explanation, to be of the greatest avail; as
Hence it apo
they render Men the only capable Subjects of this JUSTIFICATION which FAITH ALONE procures.
This is the true use and value of Works with regard to Faith ; and greater cannot be conceived. pears, that JUSTIFYING Faith is so far from excluding GOOD WORKS, that it necessarily requires them. But how? Not as sharing in that JUSTIFICATION; but as procuring for us a title to God's favour in general, they become the qualification of that inestimable Reward, revealed by the Gospel, to be obtained by FAITH
To illustrate this matter by a familiar instance : Suppose a British Monarch should bestow, in free gift, a certain portion of his own Domains *
upon such of his subjects who should perform a certain service, to which they were not obliged by the stated Laws of that society under which they lived; it is evident, that the performance of this last engagement only would be the
* To which immortality may be well compared.
thing which entitled them to the free gift: although that which gave them a claim to protection, as Subjects, in the enjoyment of Their OWN PROPERTY *, acquired by observing the terms of the contract between Subjects and Sovereign, was the necessary qualification to their claim of the free-gift; since it would be absurd to suppose that this gift was intended for Rebels and Traitors,
any but good and faithful servants of the King and Community.
This, I presume, is the true, as it certainly is the only consistent explanation, which hath been hitherto given of Justi
BY FAITH ALONE. Well, therefore, might St. Paul reprove the ignorance or licence of certain of his converts at Rome, in his question (which, under his authority, we have asked before) Do we then make void the Law through Faith? God forbid ! Yea, we ESTABLISH THE
* To which the reward offered by natural religion may be well compared. + Rom. iii. 31.
“ But how (it may be asked) is the Law of Works ESTABLISHED by the Christian Doctrine of Faith? For by the Law of Works, the Apostle could mean no other than the Law of Nature ; he having again and again told us, the Law of Mofes, as distinguished from the Law of Nature, was abolished by the Law of Christ. I answer, This Law of Works was indeed EȘT ABLISHED, and in the most substantial manner, by the doctrine of Faith, as these Works are the very foundation of justifying Faith ; the qualification of all who are entitled to the Fruits of that Faith, viz. LIFE AND IM
Bụt further, to prevent all mistakes on this important subject, (if the wisest
provisions of Heaven could have prevented the effects of human perversity, without violating freedom of will) God was pleased to send JOHN THE BAPTIST, as the Fore-run: ner of his blessed Son, to proclaim and REPUPLISH this great principle of Natural Religion, PARDON ON REPENTANCE-Repent ye, for the kingdone of heaven is at