Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

1

&

')

1

ing one from what he has no right to, be called a punishment, The state of immortality in paradife is not due to the pofterity of Adam more than to any other creature. Nay, if God afford them a temporary mortal life, it is his gift, they owe it to his bounty, they could not claim it as their right, nor does he injure them when he takes it from them. Had he taken from mankind any thing that was their right; or did he put men in a state of mifery worse than not being, without any fault or demerit of their own; this, indeed, would be hard to reconcile, with the notion we have of justice, and much more with the goodness and other attributes of the Supreme Being, which he has declared, of himself, and reason as well as revelation must acknowledge to be in him; unless we will confound good and evil, God and Satan. That such a state of extreme irremediable torment is worse than no being at all, if every one's fenfe did not determine against the vain philosophy, and foolifh metaphyficks of fome men; yet our Saviour's peremptory decifion, Matt. xxvi. 24. has put it paft doubt, that one may be in fuch an eftate, that it had been" better for him not to have been born."? But that fuch a temporary life as we now have, with all its frailties and ordinary miferies, is better than, no being, is evident, by the high value we put upon it ourselves. And therefore, though all die in Adam, yet none are truly, punished but for their own deeds. Rom. ii. 6. God will render to every one, how? according to his deeds, To thofe that obey unrighteousnefs, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguifh upon every foul of man that, doth "evil," ver. 9. 2 Cor. v. 10. We must appear before the judge"ment-feat of Chrift, that every one may receive the things done "in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good FCC or bad. And Chrift himself, who knew for what he fhould condemn men at the laft day, affures us in the two places where he defcribes his proceeding at the great, judgement, that the fentence of condemnation pafles only on, the workers of iniquity, fuch as neglected to fulfill the law in acts of charity, Matt. ii. 23 Luke Xiii. 27. Matt, xxv. 42. And again, John v. 29. our Saviour tells the Jews, that all fhall come forth of their graves, they that have "done good, to the refurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the refurrection of damnation." But here is no con demnation of any one, for what his fore-father Adam had done, which it is not likely fhould have been omitted, if that fhould have been, a caufe why any one was adjudged to the fire with the devil and his angels. And he tells his difciples, that when he comes again with his angels in the glory of his father, " that then he will

cc.

1

Vi

T

111

I

J

"C

"C

render to every one according to his works." Matt. xvi. 27. J Adam being thus turned out of paradife, and all his pofterity born out of it, the confequence of it was, that all men fhould die, and remain under death for ever,, and fo be utterly loft.

1

From this eftate of death Jefus Chrift reftores all mankind to life; 1 Cor. 22. As in Adam all die, fo in Chrift shall all be made alive." How this thall be, the fame apoftle tells us in the fore

¿

going

[ocr errors]

going ver. 21. "By man death came, by man also came the refur

rection from the dead." Whereby it appears, that the life, which Jefus Chrift reftores to all men, is that life, which they receive again at the refurrection. Then they recovered from death, which otherwife all mankind fhould have continued under, loft for ever, as appears, by St. Paul's arguing, I Cor. xv. concerning the refurrection.

And thus men are by the fecond Adam restored to life again : that fo by Adam's fin they may none of them lofe any thing, which by their own righteousness they might have a title to. For righteoufnefs, or an exact obedience to the law, feems by the fcripture to have a claim of right to eternal life, Rom. iv. 4. "To him that "worketh," i. e. does the works of the law, "is the reward not "reckoned of grace, but OF DEBT :" and Rev. xxii. 14. “Blessed "are they who do his commandments, that they may HAVE "RIGHT to the tree of life, which is in the paradife of God." If any of the pofterity of Adam were juft, they fhall not lose the reward of it, eternal life and bliss, by being his mortal iffue: Chrift will bring them all to life again; and then they fhall be put every one upon his own trial, and receive judgment, as he is found to be righteous or not: and "the righteous," as our Saviour fays, Matt. xxv. 46. "fhall go into eternal life." Nor fhall any one mifs it, who has done what our Saviour directed the lawyer, who asked, Luke x. 25. "What he should do to inherit eternal life? do this,” i. e. what is required by the law; " and thou fhalt live,”

On the other fide, it seems the unalterable purpose of the divine juftice, that no unrighteous perfon, no one that is guilty of any breach of the law, fhould be in paradife ; but that the wages of fin Should be to every man, as it was to Adam, an exclufion of him out of that happy ftate of immortality, and bring death upon him, And this is fo conformable to the eternal and established law of right and wrong, that it is fpoke of too as if it could not be otherwife, St. James fays, chap. 1. 15, "Sin, when it is finished, bring"eth forth death," as it were by a natural and neceflary production. "Sin entered into the world, and death by fin," fays St. Paul, Rom. v, 12. and vi. 23. "The wages of fin is death," Death is the purchase of any, of every fin. Gal. iii. 10. "Curfed is every "one who continueth not in all things which are written in the "book of the law to do them." And of this St. James gives a reafon, chap. ii. 10, 11, "Whofoever shall keep the whole law, "and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all: for he that faid, "Do not commit adultery, faid alfo, do not kill :" i. e. He that offends in any one point, fins against the authority which established the law,

Here then we have the ftanding and fixed measures of life and death. Immortality and blifs belong to the righteous: those who have lived in an exact conformity to the law of God, are out of the reach of death: but an exclufion from paradife, and lofs of immortality, is the portion of finners, of all those who have any way B 3

broke

broke that law, and failed of a compleat obedience to it by the guilt of any one tranfgreffion, And thus mankind by the law are put upon the iffues of life or death; as they are righteous or unrighteous, juft or unjuft; i, e. exact performers, or tranfgreffors of the law,

But yet" all having finned," Rom. iii, 23. " and come short of "the glory of God," i, e. the kingdom of God in heaven, which is often called his glory," both Jews and Gentiles," ver. 22. fo that "by the deeds of the law no one could be justified," ver, 20. it follows, that no one could then have eternal life and bliss,

Perhaps it will be demanded, why did God give fo hard a law to mankind, that to the Apostles time no one of Adam's iffue had kept it? as appears by Rom. iii. and Gal. iii. 21, 22.

Anfw. It was fuch a law as the purity of God's nature required, and must be the law of fuch a creature as man, unless God would have made him a rational creature, and not required him to have lived by the law of reafon, but would have countenanced in him irregularity and difobedience to that light which he had, and that rule which was fuitable to his nature; which would have been to have authorized diforder, confufion, and wickedness in his creatures, For that this law was the law of reafon, or, as it is called, of nature, we shall fee by-and-by: and if rational creatures will not live up to the rule of their reafon, who fhall excufe them? If you will admit them to forfake reafon in one point, why not in another? Where will you ftop? To difobey God in any part of his commands (and it is he that commands what reafon does) is direct rebellion; which if difpenfed with in any point, government and order are at an end, and there can be no bounds fet to the lawless

exorbitancy of unconfined men, "The law therefore was," as St. Paul tells us, Rom. vii, 21. "holy, juft, and good," and fuch as it ought, and could not otherwise be.

This then being the cafe, that whoever is guilty of any fin fhould certainly die, and ceafe to be, the benefit of life restored by Chrift at the refurrection would have been no great advantage, (forafinuch as here again death must have seized upon all mankind, becaufe all had finned; for the wages of fin is every where death, as well after, as before the refurrection), if God had not found out a way to juftify fome, i. e. fo many as obeyed another law, which God gave, which in the New Teftament is called "the law of faith," Rom. iii. 27. and is opposed to "the law of works." And therefore the punishment of those who would not follow him was to lose their fouls, i. e. their lives, Mark viii. 35, 38. as is plain, confidering the occafion it was spoke on.

The better to understand " the law of faith," it will be convenient in the first place to confider " the law of works." The law of works then, in fhort, is that law which requires perfect obedience, without any remiffion or abatement; so that by that law a man cannot be juft, or justified, without an exact performance of every tittle. Such a perfect obedience in the New Testament is termed inaon, which we tranflate " righteousness."

The

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

26

The language of this law is, do this and live, tranfgrefs and die, Lev. xviii. 5. " Ye fhall keep my ftatutes and my judgements, which if a man do, he fhall live in them." Ezek. xx. II. “I gave them my ftatutes, and fhewed them my judgements, which "if a man do, he shall even live in them." Mofes, fays St. Paul, Rom. x. 5. " defcribeth the righteousness which is of the law, that "the man which doth thofe things fhall live in them." Gal. iii, 12. "The law is not of faith, but that man that doth them fhall "live in them," On the other fide, tranfgrefs and die; no difpenfation, no atonement. Ver. 10. "Curfed is every one that "continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the "law, to do them,"

Where this law of works was to be found, the New Teftament tells us, (viz.) in the law delivered by Mofes. John i. 17. “The law was given by Mofes, but faith and truth came by Jefus "Chrift." Chap, vii, 19. " Did not Mofes give you the law," fays our Saviour," and yet none of you keep the law?" And this is the law which he speaks of, where he afks the lawyer, Luke x. 26, "What is written in the law? How readeft thou?" ver. 28. " This "do, and thou fhalt live." This is that which St. Paul fo often ftyles the law, without any other diftinction, Rom. ii. 13. "Not "the hearers of the law are juft before God, but the doers of the "law are juftified," It is needlefs to quote any more places: his epiftles are all full of it, especially this to the Romans,

But the law given by Mofes being not given to all mankind, how are all men finners, fince without a law there is no tranfgreffion? To this the Apoftle, ver. 14. anfwers, " For when the Gentiles, " which have not the law, do (i. e. find it reasonable to do) by "nature the things contained in the law; thefe having not the law, " are a law unto themfelves: which fhew the work of the law writ"ten in their hearts, their confciences also bearing witnefs, and " amongst one another their thoughts accufing or excufing,' By which, and other places in the following chapter, it is plain, that under the law of works is comprehended alfo the law of nature, knowable by reason, as well as the law given by Mofes, " For," fays St. Paul, Rom. iii, 9, 23. " we have proved both Jews and "Gentiles, that they are all under fin: for all have finned, and "come fhort of the glory of God:" which they could not do without a law.

[ocr errors]

Nay, whatever God requires any where to be done without making any allowance for faith, that is a part of the law of works. So the forbidding Adam to eat of the tree of knowledge, was part of the law of works. Only we must take notice here, that fome of God's pofitive commands being for peculiar ends, and fuited to particular circumstances of times, places, and perfons, having a limited and only temporary obligation by virtue of God's pofitive injunction; fuch as was that part of Mofes's law which concerned the outward worship or political conftitution of the Jews, and is called the Ceremonial and Judaical Law, in contradiftinction to the moral

B 4

part

part of it; which being conformable to the eternal law of right, is of eternal obligation, and therefore remains in force ftill under the gofpel; nor is abrogated by the law of faith, as St. Paul found fome ready to infer, Rom. iii. 31. " Do we then make void the "law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law."

Nor can it be otherwise : for were there no " law of works," there could be no law of faith," For there could be no need of faith, which should be counted to men for righteousness, if there were no law to be the rule and measure of righteoufnefs, which men failed in their obedience to. Where there is no law, there is no fin; all are righteous equally with or without faith,

The rule therefore of right is the fame that ever it was, the obligation to obferve it is alfo the fame the difference between the

law of works" and the " law of faith" is only this; that the "law " of works" makes no allowance for failing on any occafion. Those that obey, are righteous: those that in any part disobey, are unrighteous, and muft not expect life, the reward of righteousness. But by the law of faith," faith is allowed to fupply the defect of full obedience; and fo the believers are admitted to life and immortality, as if they were righteous. Only here we must take notice, that when St. Paul fays, that the Gospel establishes the law, he means the moral part of the law of Mofes: for that he could not mean the ceremonial or political part of it, is evident by what I quoted out of him juft now, where he fays, "The Gentiles that do "by nature the things contained in the law, their confciences bear"ing witness." For the Gentiles neither did nor thought of the judaical or ceremonial inftitutions of Mofes; it was only the moral part their confciences were concerned in. As for the reft, St. Paul tells the Galatians, chap. iv. they are not under that part of the law, which ver. 3. he calls " elements of the world ;" and ver. 9. "weak and beggarly elements." And our Saviour himself, in his gofpel-fermon on the mount, tells them, Matt, v. ver. 17. that whatever they might think, he was not come " to diffolve the law," but to make it more full and ftrict; for that that is meant by wangwa.. is evident from the following part of that chapter, where he gives the precepts in a stricter fenfe than they were received in before. But they are all precepts of the moral law which he reinforces: what fhould become of the ritual law he tells the woman of Samaria in thefe words, John iv. 21, 23. « The hour cometh when ye fhall "neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerufalem, worship the Fa"ther. But the true worshippers fhall worship the Father in fpirit "and in truth, for the Father feeketh fuch to worship him."

Thus then as to the law in fhort: the civil and ritual part of the law delivered by Mofes obliges not Chriftians, though to the Jews it were a part of the law of works; it being a part of the law of nature, that man ought to obey every pofitive law of God, whenever he shall please to make any fuch addition to the law of his nature. But the moral part of Mofes's law, or the moral law, (which is every where the fame, the eternal rule of right) obliges Chriftians

and

« EdellinenJatka »