Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

all the promises given to the Jews continually upon the terms of their obedience ?

Loveg. Indeed Sir while you have already confessed that every penitent believer is a good man, I cannot see, as I have before observed, how he can be a good man and a bad man at the same time. But there are Ifs of very different significations; the conditional if, and the descriptive if; while the vaunting, conditional if, can demand payment for what has been performed: the humble descriptive if describes the character of the good man, but gives God the glory. It is therefore very true Sir, if we repent, if we believe, if we love God, if we are of a forgiving temper, if we have pure hearts and clean hands; in short; if we be found in all holy obedience to the laws of God, we may assuredly expect to be received into glory though I think Sir, after you have read the Bible a little more attentively, you will discover that what you now suppose to be conditions, which are to be peformed by us, are rather to be looked upon as mere gifts or graces, bestowed by the hand of divine mercy upon us; and if these good things be gifts on his part, they no longer can be called conditions on our part.

All

Wor. And farther, dear Sir, how are we to understand you, that it rests with us to do or not to do that which is good, according to our own choice. very true Sir, we shall never do good till we choose to do it. This however is only begging the question, who is to influence the choice? The choice of a bad man will never be a good one, until a supernatural power converts and influences the heart.

Lov. Why Sir, are we not commanded to do all these things; and does it not rest with us to do them, or not do them, according to our own choice?

Consid. And Sir, I heard Mr. Lovegood say not long ago, that "if we, through the corruption of our own hearts, had lost all will and inclination to obey, God could never lose, nor renounce his right to command." The law is, and must be, eternal in its

[ocr errors]

demands, notwithstanding the corruptions of human nature; yes, and that the "law was even added because of trangression."

Lov. Really gentlemen, this is pressing me very hard, for all of you to argue against my side of the question; and yet, I think if I could but recollect all that the good Doctor said, I should still be able to stand my ground. I remember how well hé proved even from the Bible itself, how absolutely necessary good works are, to recommend us to the merits of our Saviour: and what an excellent use he made of the account of Cornelius's conversion; how that before ever he was a believer, he was "a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house;" that "he gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always." And observe Sir, that it is said, "his alms are come up for a memorial before God; and that "his alms were had in remembrance in the sight of God." Nay farther Sir, it is actually said, that in every nation he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of him."

Loveg. But Sir, even the chapter you refer to, gives up the point for which yon unhappily contend. Was it not found necessary that Peter should be introduced' by an immediate revelation, to tell even this good Cornelius, "words whereby he and all his house should be saved ?" and he went accordingly, preaching peace by Jesus Christ," and not by Cornelius's righteousness, testifying at the same time, that " to him gave all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth on him, shall receive remission of sins." It is a pity dear Sir, that you should make one end of the same story contradict the other; let it only be acknowledged, that all the good things he possessed, were all the gifts of divine grace, previous to a still farther manifestation of that pardon and mercy, we all need, and receive through Christ alone; and matters are at once settled between us. The invariable rule we should at all times go by, in the interpretation of the Scriptures, is to make them speak

[ocr errors]

consistently with themselves. Do you therefore, think you have proved your point against other express declarations of Scripture, that "by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified;" that "the righteousness of God without the law is manifested; that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ; while the Apostle farther gives this reason why Israel had not attained to the law of righteousness, "because they sought it not by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law; and again, they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God, for Christ is the end of the law of righteousness, unto every one that believeth."

Lov. Dear Sir, I again remark, you seem quite to misunderstand me. Our good works are not to be esteemed as the meritorious cause of our salvation, but only the conditional cause. Is it not said, “Ask, and ye shall have; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you?" And was it not proposed, even to that wicked man, Simon Magus, that he should pray that the wickedness of his heart might be forgiven? and were not all these conditions?

Loveg. I wish I did misunderstand you Sir; but if works are to be in any wise the cause, and especially, as you seem to represent them, the first moving cause, whereby we first move God himself, (who can be moved by no cause,) to show us his mercy; the second covenant which you have admitted to be the covenant of grace, is quite as much the covenant of works as the former; and then what St. Paul said about being "found in Christ, not having on his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God, by faith," is put quite out of the question.

Lov. Really Sir, I confess you puzzle me, though I still think, if I were better read in the Scriptures, I should confute you.

Loveg. Would you then attempt a farther dis

[merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »