« EdellinenJatka »
use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.—This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh.-But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.—And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Such are the evidences and effects (not the causes) of a real Christian faith. Unless a man possess these, he may rest assured that his faith is delusion and that he is yet in his sins; for faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” The evidence of good works is necessary to establish a claim to faith; for by works we are justified, not indeed in the presence of God, but to the conviction of our own consciences and to the satisfaction of the Christian world.” A bare historical belief, that empty faith, which St. James so justly reprobates, is at once a miserable self-deception and a profane mockery of God. Our Church acts with her usual wisdom in deciding this momentous point, guarding her sons on the one hand against the destructive pride of selfrighteousness, which impiously places human merit in the same throne with the incarnate Jehovah ; and on the other hand against the baneful heresy of antinomianism, which abuses the precious liberty of adoption to the worst species of licentiousness, a licentiousness from principle.
* Gal. v. 13–25. * James ii. 17. * James ii. 24.
Albeit, that good works, which are The Fruits of faith and Follow After justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God's judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith; insomuch, that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known, as a tree is discerned by the fruit.1
* Article xii.
. /. r ■ . ■ \ ■ \\ ■ . i r .a A iX
■•■■; >.■•.-:il.i'Ut,* ..■;
.■•: ytx h<
VOL. II. 2 E
THE NECESSITY OF A PERFECT DISPENSATION LIKE THE CHRISTIAN, ARGUED FROM THE IMPERFECTION OF THE MOSAICAL DISPENSATION.
Thus have we at length arrived, through the medium of type, prophecy, and practice, at the true connection between the Patriarchal, the Mosaical, and the Christian, dispensations. We have seen that the Law, instead of being destroyed, has been fulfilled; having received the most glorious attestation to its truth, by the completion of its ceremonies, and by the accomplishment of its predictions: we have beheld in the Gospel the exactness of this completion: and we have observed, that Moses and his Institutes were only a shadow of good things to come, preparatory to the manifestation of a greater Prophet and a purer religion.
I. Let us now finally consider the necessity of a perfect dispensation like the Christian, in consequence of the imperfection of the Jewish.
1. The imperfection of the Mosaical dispensation does not consist, in its being inadequate to the. end and design with which it was promulged, but in its being only one part of the grand revelation of God's purpose to save mankind through the blood of the Messiah. In this sense, even Christianity itself, abstracted from Judaism, as it was by the Gnostics and other heretics, may be deemed imperfect. But, if the end alone of Judaism be considered, in that respect it doubtless, as proceeding from God, is perfect; for it certainly answered the design of its promulgation completely and perfectly. Thus, to use the Apostle's figure, a child may be perfect and complete in all his component parts, as a child, though not as a human being; because he has not attained to all the perfection, of which his nature is capable.
2. This dispensation is likewise imperfect in another respect: it is designed only for a small nation, not for the whole world. In fact, a part of its end was to separate the Israelites from the rest of mankind, which it effectually accomplished. Hence many of its ordinances are of such a nature, that they are not calculated for general observation. The Jews, for instance, were commanded to appear personally in Jerusalem at their great festivals; and, if all men had been converted to Judaism, this law would have been equally binding upon them. But it would be impossible for the greater part of mankind to repair to Jerusalem three or four times in the year; for, if this was a necessary part of religion, the lives of half the world would entirely be spent in a wearisome, never-ending, pilgrimage. 3. Lastly, most of the Jewish rites were primarily memorials of their deliverance as a particular people. In this sense, therefore, it would be a manifest absurdity for those persons to observe them, who had never experienced such deliverances, and who were not in the least interested in keeping up the recollection of them. And, if they be taken in their figurative and secondary sense, it would be still more absurd, for men to be bound to an observance of the shadows, when in possession of the substance. II. An universal revelation is necessary for an universal conversion of mankind. Hence, when the time appointed in the secret councils of God arrived, and when the Gentiles were now to be called to the same privileges with the Jews; a dispensation was vouchsafed fully adequate to this important end. Whatever were the imperfections of the ritual Law, their very opposites were the perfections of the Gospel. 1. If the one was burdened with numberless ceremonies, significant indeed yet gendering to bondage; the other requires none but such as are necessary for decency and good order, and blesses us with the enjoyment of a spiritual liberty which we must not suffer to degenerate into licentiousIleSS. 2. If the Mosaical dispensation was confined to one people; the Christian, like the glorious luminary of day, extends its benign influence to all the