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world to understand the clergy in general are em ployed in weaving, (but which does by no means contain a fair representation of the manner in which the Gospel is generally preached in the Church) is taken from an epistle of St. John, where the Apostle says, "This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ."*
By turning to the Bible you find that this quotation from the Apostle is a partial one, and contains only half the information which was designed to be conveyed on the occasion. The whole passage runs thus: ". this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment." Here then we have two commandments delivered by the same authority; one relative to faith in Christ, the other enjoining the love of our neighbour, which is elsewhere called the fulfilling of the law. Mr. Wilberforce, by his manner of quoting the Apostle, gives his reader to understand, that to believe is the great New Testament command of God. It is so; but the fallacy lies here, that it is not the only commandment to which the Christian is required to pay attention. And if the Christian reads the Gospel as Mr. Wilberforce quotes it upon this occasion, he will probably be a Christian by halves, instead of being that perfect character which the Apostle designed he should be, by recommending a faith which worketh by love. And that the first of these commandments respecting faith in Christ does not necessarily comprehend
* 1 John iii. 23.
the last, respecting man's fulfilment of the moral law, we may conclude, from the Apostle's thinking it necessary to make a separate mention of them both.
Give me leave to ask, why should pains be taken by persons having the honour of God and salvation of man at heart, (as you and Mr. Wilberforce certainly have) to misrepresent the Gospel, by making it speak a language which it does not acknowledge? We should not be afraid of a doctrine that is in itself true, because it has been abused; but endeavour so to state it, that it may not be liable to future abuse. The danger is not in the doctrine itself, but in the corruption of it. Let it be restored to its scripture standard, and it will be both wholesome and good. Instead, therefore, of keeping the doctrine of good works out of sight, lest a dangerous conclusion should be drawn from it, as Mr. Wilberforce in this instance appears to do; and instead of saying, as you do, that "obedience to the moral law has nothing to do with a sinner's pardon and acceptance with God," let us fairly bring the doctrine forward; and, by placing works in their proper scale, strip them of the possibility of doing injury to the Christian cause, and render them instrumental to its promotion; and this can effectually be done by giving our readers fully to understand what kind of dependence is to be placed. on them.
By the grace of God, under the new covenant, Christians (in the language of our Church for the fifteenth Sunday after Trinity) pray "that they may be led to things profitable to their salvation."
It ought, therefore, to be a primary objects with every Christian, that the grace of God be not be stowed upon him in vain. Such is the manner in which the Gospel was preached by the Apostles: in the same manner it was preached by our reformers; and in no other manner can it be preached, to become effectual to salvation. "For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men; teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world." On this condition, the Christian may with confidence look “for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." རྒྱུཀ་ ཝ་སྐུ་
On which account I conceive, that the preaching of the Christian ministry must be, in this sense, that mingle mangle of law and Gospel, grace and works, of which the Apostles have given a striking specimen in their writings: and he who attempts to preach the law unconnected with the Gospel, or the grace of the Gospel independent of obedience to the moral law, does equal injustice to the gra cious, and at the same time righteous, plan of salvation by Jesus Christ; and frustrates the design of it, by placing himself under a dispensation essentially different from it. To understand properly the language of St. Paul and that of our reformers, two circumstances are necessary to be taken into our account.. St. Paul, when writing against
*Titus ii. 11, et seq.
works, did not mean the good works of a Christian, living in a state of grace; but the works of the law, considered by the Judaising believer, as jointly necessary with the Gospel to justification; or, as they were considered by the unbelieving Jew, as sufficient alone to justification without the Gospel. Our reformers, when they laid the platform of our present Church establishment, were principally solicitous to guard against the errors of the Church of Rome, of which the doctrine of merit constituted one of the grossest kind. The Church of England in her doctrine, therefore, has drawn the plain line of distinction between works and works. The works of the mere moral man she unequivocally condemns, as totally unavailable to salvation, and having the nature of sin in the eyes of God, because they are done without God, are not performed upon a Christian principle, and spring not of faith in Jesus Christ. Whilst the good works of the Christian, though performed upon a right principle, she considers not meritorious in themselves, on account of their imperfections; but necessary to be performed, because they are pleasant and acceptable to God, through the merits of an atoning Saviour.
It being my design not to enter further into your fifth letter, than as it relates to my general subject, many pages have been passed over, in which your ideas either are not correctly expressed, or, in my judgment, are liable to exception. Indeed, it is my wish to avoid the unpleasant task of analysing language, which I conceive to have been hastily written; it being far more satisfactory to me to
to find out sentiments in which we agree, than to examine those in which we appear to differ. If know myself, I can with truth say, with Hooker, that "I have no joy in striving, I have not been nuzzled or trained up in it. I would to God that the purport of Christ's prayer for his disciplesthat they might remain undivided-might be realized throughout Christendom." With this sentiment strongly impressed on my mind, I feel a satisfaction, after having travelled over many pages in which we appear to differ, to find one page (140) in which I perfectly concur with you; "that this is a critical juncture, in which the clergy should do every thing in their power to stop that foaming torrent of irreligion, profaneness, and contempt of all order, good government, and subordination, which has for some time been coming in upon us like a flood; and I am certain they cannot do this more effectually than by diligently exerting themselves in the restoration of those pure principles, by which the Reformation was happily effected among us."
You will give me leave only, as one of the clergy, to remind you, Sir, of what, it is presumed, has been proved in a former letter; that the doctrine of absolute unconditional election and justification of certain individuals, independent of the conduct of the party, was not the doctrine of the Reformation; and at the same time to suggest to your serious consideration, whether such a doctrine, with the consequences which have more or less been drawn at all times from it, is so well calculated to produce the desired effect, as that which the Church of England