Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

Much is conceded in this passage ; and in many respects the statement is satisfactory, and the argument conclusive. The terms conditions and

conditional,' as not found in scripture, and as liable to be misunderstood, are not much used among the evangelical clergy: but they are capable of a sound interpretation. ' The main thing wanting in the quotation is that which has been so fully discussed already, namely, an explicit declaration, that “it is God who worketh in us to “will," as well as assists us in doing, if indeed we acceptably perform those conditions.

"We know that “he who has promised is faith• ful.”'_ Faithful promise makes due debt. This • was all that the ancient church did ever under

stand by the name of merits. Let Petavius bear 'witness. “Antiqui patres omnes, et præ cæteris

Augustinus, cumque iis consentiens Romana et Catholica pietas, agnoscit merita eo sensu, nimirum, ut neque Dei gratiam ulla antecedant 'merita, et hæc ipsa tum ex gratia, tum ex gratuita

Dei pollicitatione tota pendeant.'2 That is, 'All :the ancient fathers, and above all the rest, Au

gustine, and the Roman and Catholic faith • agreeing with them, acknowledge merits in this * sense; namely, that neither do any merits go 'before the grace of God, and that these them“selves wholly depend on grace, and on the gra• tuitous promise of God.'

Many of the quotations adduced from the fathers, in the fifth chapter of the Refutation of Cal

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

vinism, seem to militate against this construction put upon their doctrine; and the distinction in this respect of Augustine from all the rest, as he indeed merits to be distinguished, implies that the others did not so clearly express this meaning. The doctrine, however, as expressed by the Archbishop, is liable to no objection."

• It is an easy thing for a wrangling sophister to dispute of merits in the schools, or for a vain orator to declaim of merits out of the pulpit : but 'when we come to lie upon our death-beds, and • present ourselves at the last hour before the tri

bunal of Christ, it is high time both for you and us to renounce our own merits, and to cast our

selves naked into the arms of our Saviour. That 'any works of ours, (who are the best of us but ' unprofitable servants,) which properly are not

ours, but God's own gifts; and, if they were ''ours, are a just debt due unto him; setting * aside God's free promise and gracious accepta

tion, should condignly by their own intrinsic value deserve the joys of heaven, to which they have no more proportion than they have to satis

fy for the eternal torments of hell; this is that 'which we have renounced, and which we never 'ought to admit.'?

This is quoted merely to express unqualified approbation of it. God grant that all who now

.' It is observable that Luther himself allows, and the confession of Augsburg retains, the word merit in this sense. There can be no doubt however that it is with great propriety we now decline the use of it.-J.S.

* Note continued, Abp. Bramhall, Ref. 81.

oppose, or misunderstand, the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, may before, or at least when, they come to lie upon their deathbeds, 'renounce

their own merits, and cast themselves naked into the arms of the Saviour!'

BOOK II.

ON REGENERATION:

CHAPTER I.

STATEMENTS CONCERNING BAPTISMAL

REGENERATION.

* As the term regeneration, or new birth, is ' frequently used by modern Calvinists, when speaking of their favourite tenets of instantaneous conversion and indefectible grace, it may be proper to explain the application and true meaning of this word in scripture, and in the public for‘mularies of our church.'

Regeneration is indeed a term “frequently used by modern Calvinists,' and by many who do not think themselves Calvinists. It is also found continually in the writings on theology, which have been preserved to us from preceding ages, even from the primitive times; whether it be used in a scriptural or unscriptural meaning. It is therefore, no peculiarity of modern Calvinists;' though essentially a part of their system. But is it not also an essential part of scriptural Christianity ? And do we not all derive our phraseology, in this respect, from the New Testament; whether we adhere to the doctrine of that sacred book or not?

* Ref. 83.

'Instantaneous conversion' has been considered; and it has been shewn that it is not a ' favourite • tenet of modern Calvinists :'l and certainly it has no connexion with the tenet of indefectible

grace;' for they, in whose writings sudden conversions are most frequently related, decidedly oppose the doctrine of the final perseverance of all true believers. The words indefectible and indefectibility occur very rarely, if at all, in the writings of modern Calvinists, with reference to this topic. Indeed they do not precisely convey their meaning. When the word grace is used to signify a new creation to holiness, producing unequivocally “ the fruits of the Spirit;" it is not deemed indefectible in its own nature, at least by many modern Calvinists. Adamn lost “the image of God” in which he was created; he lost divine life, and became “ dead in sin :" and we may do the same, if there be nothing in the covenant of grace and peace to secure us against the fatal event. Calvinists think there is ; and that this security is intended, when it is said, “ Our life is hid with Christ in God;"2 and in many other scriptures. Our Lord said to Peter, “ Simon, Simon, Satan “ hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as “ wheat; but I have prayed for thee that thy faith « fail not.”3 His faith was indefectible, not in its ówn nature, but through Christ's intercession. Thus Beza says, “It is through the prayers of ' Sect. on Sudden Conversion, Book I. 'Col, iii. 3,

3 Luke xxii. 31, 32.

« EdellinenJatka »