Графични страници
PDF файл

ance, but they are not the terms ; for God does not save us because we can offer him any thing of right, but because we trust in him through Christ, who ratified the covenant. For the new covenant is not the acceptance of man, because his works have


natural claim, but because God through Christ has been pleased to promise acceptance. Christ is the ratifier of the covenant, and faith the bond or instrument of our adherence to the Saviour. Further, without faith we cannot have communion with Christ, and therefore by the inftrumentality of that faith are

we saved. Works, it is evident, cannot save us without faith; and as they are produced only by the co-operation of God, and not alone by our own powers, they are the consequences of grace,

but not the sole conditions of salvation. For God does not fave because man is a worker of righteousness, but because righteousness is worked through faith in Christ, who ratifies the covenant, who accepts and confirms it for us. In all such questions it must be confessed that there is much intricacy, and therefore they are to be understood only in conformity to Scripture and reason : but from this statement, which is, I trust, the general belief of the

[ocr errors]

established Clergy, it is evident that we cannot be charged with neglecting to preach, or with misrepresenting, the true doctrines of the Gospel.


JAMES iii. 17.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good

fruits, without partiality, and with out hypocrisy. HAVING considered the errors which the mistaken zeal of many has produced on the subject of predestination, of original fin, and the justification of man, I shall now beg leave to offer a few brief observations on the article Of good Works, which is also liable to similar misinterpretations.

That the great object of all religion is to render us more acceptable to God, and to improve our moral and religious nature, cannot, it should seem, become the subject of controversy. But we are told in the language of enthusiasts, that faith is in itself sufficient; and although they do not openly discourage the practice of virtue, yet, by insisting so strongly on an affection of the mind, which they can

not explain, they ultimately corrupt the sentiments, by giving the false notion, that goodness is no recommendation to almighty mercy, and consequently of little avail.

Now there are no terms more misrepresented than those of faith and grace.

In the true sense of the Scriptures no rational Christian would ever presume to dispute the efficacy of the one, or the divine influence of the other. Grace is the general or particular favour of God, conferred on us through the promises of Jesus Christ. It is either absolute or conditional. Absolute grace is that by which we enjoy life and all its blessings, health, strength, and every other gift of God, which is bestowed on us without any annexed conditions, and the use of which is in a great measure dependant on ourselves : for the preservation or deftruction of life or health must depend on the conduct of man, and either may be withdrawn whenever it shall please the Almighty. But grace, by which is implied the gifts of the Holy Spirit, is entirely conditional, and requires our acceptance and co-operation : for a reprobate mind may reject, or a careless one may abuse it. Thus the Scripture tells us, By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, left any man should boast f. Thus all is of

grace. But what is the gift of God? The grace or favour of God; and if therefore we are saved not of ourselves, if works will not save us, neither will faith. For faith is that affent which reason gives to the word of God, and which may be either implicit and instantaneous, or the consequence of deliberation; for deliberation implies inquiry; and though there may be merit in a ready acquiescence, there is probably more stability in that which is the result of calm investigation. Faith in the Gofpel depends on evidence, and is founded on an examination of those evidences which God has been mercifully pleased to vouchsafe to us. Without inquiry, it is mere assent, not resulting from any principles, and which therefore can obtain only the name of acquiescence. But that faith which is built on evidence, and a devout trust and confidence in the promises of God, has all the merit which can be expected from man.

But more particularly the faith which is mentioned in the New Testament is well explained by an eminent writer on our Articles, to stand “ for the complex of Christianity, in

f Ephef. č. 8, 9.

« ПредишнаНапред »