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manner of his own existence, and, therefore, we inust believe what he has revealed to us concerning it, upon his indisputable authority.
From what has been said, it appears, that we do not require a blind and implicit obedience, or exclude the use of reason in matters of religion. For it is by the use of reason, that we examine into the proofs of the revelation, and by the guidance of reason, into the nature of the doctrines contained in it, whether they be contrary to it or not: and when we are convinced of these two points, all that we insist upon is, that if, upon examination into these doctrines, we find any that are incomprehensible, we ought not upon that account to conclude that they are false, but with the greatest reason to submit to the authority of God, who has revealed them.
And, indeed, however men may pretend to rail at the belief of mysteries, not all the wit of man has ever yet been able to produce a scheme of salvation, which has so well provided for the honour of God, and the harmony of his attributes, 'as the Gospel dispensation. For the atonement which a crucified Saviour made for the sins of mankind, at the same time, shewed the displeasure of God to sin, that it procured his pardon and forgiveness of it to men. Here mercy and justice met together, righteo ousness and peace kissed each other. Under this gracious covenant of promise, we have this comfort and assurance, that though we cannot ourselves make any atonement for our sins, and though our best works are imperfect, yet, through faith in the merits of him who died for us, and sincere repentance, the one will be pardoned, and the other accepted. For now there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit: For God is the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus, to whom his faith is counted for righteousness, and that freely, by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
But, 2dly, Lest the mercy of God in this dis pensation should be abused by the presumptuous pretensions of wicked men, as if faith alone was sufficient to procure pardon of sins, the Apostlecommands us “to hold this mystery of the “ faith in a pure conscience;” that is, to live agreeably to our christian profession. And accordingly, in St. James, and many other parts of scripture, it is expressly declared, that faith is no otherwise saving, than as it is an active principle, and exerts itself in good works; that
not the bare belief of this mystery, not all the invocations of Lord, Lord; not the preaching
doing wonderful things in his name, can avail us any thing, unless we also do the will and obey the commands of our Father, which is in heaven. Obedience and a good life are required of us under the law of grace, as well as under the law of nature; only with this difference, that repentance will be accepted under this law, through faith in the merits of our Redeemer, instead of that perfect obedience, which the law of nature required : and our faith is so far from weakening the cause of virtue and morality, as some have impiously fancied, that it encourages and promotes it, in the i highest manner possible. For surely the greater obligation we are under to God for the pardon of our sins, the more we ought, on the one hand, to fly and abhor them, and on the other, to love and adore him; which will naturally lead us to a life of purity and holiness.
Did God then suffer his Son to come into the world, to lead a persecuted life, and sựffer an ignominious death, that he might atone for our transgressions; and can we sufficiently admire this great condescension ? Can the purest saint upon earth presume to think, that he has made an equal return to God for this vast obligation ?
Are all the good acts we are capable of performing, any more than our reasonable service; and was not that obedience due to God before our Tedemption, for our creation, for our daily preservation and support? But that we are redeemed from misery, and restored to the happiness we had forfeited, are additional blessings, and altogether acts of divine grace and bounty. Ought we not, therefore, to make the most grateful acknowledgments for these benefits received, which our best services can never repay? And which way can we make a proper acknowledgment for these benefits, but by ascribing the purchase of them not to our own, but the merits of Christ, aud by doing such works, as will make our faith in those merits be imputed to us for righteousness? Did it require so great an atonement as the sacrifice of the Son of God, to expiate our sins? How ought our abhorrence and aversion to those sins to rise in proportion? How ought we to dread violating those laws, to the breach of which eternal death is annexed for the penalty; and how thankful ought we to be to God, who has given us the means to escape it? Since then, as far as reason can judge, we have no assurance of the pardon of our sins, without believing in the merits of a crucified Saviour, let us reverence and adore this great mystery of our redemption, and hold fast the
profession profession of our faith without wavering. And, since faith without works is dead, let us carefully maintain and defend the honour of our profession, by virtue and good works, by “holding " the mystery of faith in a pure conscience,"