Page images
PDF
EPUB

VII.

CHAP. to the gospel, as the Judaiz ing Christians dis

puted; or whether, by a life framed according to the prescriptions of the gospel, without the Mosaic ceremonies. 2. Whether, consequently's the faith intended by Paul in the matter of justification signifies partly the doctrine of the gospel, in opposition to the Mosaic law; partly the pra&tice of spiritual holiness, according to the prescription of the gospel, in opposition to the works prescribed by the law of Moses; or a certain singular virtue, which, apart from other virtues, relates to justification. 3. Whether, if justifying faith denotes a singular virtue, its essence consists in an inward and a most firm and full persuasion, that Christ is mine, and that all my sins are certainly forgiven me for his sake. 4. Whether, in justification, faith be considered as an evidence and an argument that it is already granted, or as a condition pre-required by God in order to it, or as an instrument by which I lay hold on the righteousness of Christ. 5. Whether sorrow for sin's committed, penitence and repentance, as a certain disa posing condition, precede the remission of sins. 6. Whether all sins, not only past, but also future, are, in justification, so forgiven together and at once to believers, that God sees no more sin in the justified, that no deformity of sin, no guilt, no burden lies upon them, that no sin however great can truly hurt them, that God is not offended with any of their transgressions, that they need neither humiliation, nor confessions nor prayers, in order to obtain the pardon of

VII,

Paul's

sin recently committed; finally, that imme- CHAP. diately after the committing of sin, they are as certain of pardon, as after the deepest humiliation.

II. As to the first question, the very learn-I II. Cave's ed gentleman, William Cave, in his book opinion of concerning the lives of the Apostles, hath at judgment. the end of Paul's life, clearly and handsomely explained his own opinion, and that of his abettors, concerning it. He observes therefore, that Paul's judgment can be best understood from that controversy which was held with the free Christian church, not only by the Jews, the enemies of the gospel, but also by some of the Jews converted to Christianity, but still seized with much veneration and zeal for the Mosaic laws. The former, indeed, contended violently, that righteousness and life cannot be otherwise obtained, than by the observation of the Mosaic laws, the beginning, the root, and foundation of which is circumcision. As for the latter, they admitted the gospel indeed, yet so that they would have the use of circumcision and the other ceremonies joined to it, as a necessary part of that righteousness by which we must be justified. With both these kinds of men Paul had to do: he maintaining on the contrary, that justification is not to be sought from the economy of the Mosaic law, neither in whole nor in part; but from the economy of evangelic doctrine, without all the apparatus of the ceremonies. And therefore, by faith, he understands sometimes

VII.

III.

CHAP. the doctrine of the gospel, which he calls the

law of faith, in opposition to the Mosaic doctrine, which he calls the law of works; sometimes that efficacious assent to be given to the gospel, which does not signify here any special virtue, but the universal condition of the new covenant, comprehending the exercise of all Christian virtues. All which the very learned man prosecutes accurately, and at large: nor do I conceal it, that there are Divines of great name, both among the French and us, whose sentiments are not far distant from these. [12.]

III. This is a matter of the greatest importEasily discerned ance, and deserves to be treated with the utfrom the most caurion: therefore, lest we err, we must which he take our rise a little higher. In this, indeed, confutes. I most cheerfully agree with the very learned

men, that Paul's judgment is not otherwise better known, than from the consideration of the errors which in his disputes he undertook to confute. le wrote to those who had happily exchanged partly Gentilism, and partly Judaism for Christianity: and judged that it was his business to root out the prejudices of the old sect entirely from their minds, and to carry them from every thing of their own, whether the worthiness of works and virtues, or satisfaction for sins, to the satisfaction and merits of Christ only, and to the absolute grace of God in him.

errors

Note [12]

VII.

IV. The

the Gentiles.

IV. The most of the Gentiles, living in CHAP. gross ignorance of God and themselves, were not very solicitous concerning the remission of their sins, and generally not at all concern- errors of ing the salvation of their souls. Others believed that the excellence of their virtues was so great, that by it they could easily merit the favour of the gods, as well in this world, as after death, if any thing was to be then ex-. pected. They thought they could make ample satisfaction for their vices by their virtues, especially if they repented of their evil doing. They pronounced him innocent, who repented that he had sinned. In their more atrocious crimes, by which an evil conscience told them they had deserved the wrath of the gods, they were wont to use lustrations of various kinds, also piacular sacrifices, sometimes even human, by which the deities might be appeased. But whereas the more sagacious perceived that even these were not sufficient, they imposed certain troublesome duties upon themselves, and by fastings, voluntary bodily afflictions, and spontaneous punishments, endeavoured to wash away their sins, and to propitiate the Deity. And they who were wisest of all, taught, that by nothing more than by reformation of life could the gods be pacified. That the Gentiles were thus minded, is too obvious to need proof.

V. The Jews went a little further. Since V. The there are two distinct parts in justification, the Jews. the pardon of, sin, and a title unto life, it is

G

errors of

VII.

,by alms * ץרקה ץעקה שנוי השם וכן מעשה:

CHAP. proper to know what they thought of both.

Though they teach that there are three classes of men, one of the just, whose righteousnesses down weigh their sins; another of the wicked, whose sins are far more, and more heavy than their good deeds; a third of the intermediate kind, of whose actions you can scarcely say which preponderates; yet they believe there is none so perfectly righteous that he does not need remission. And they believe that it may be obtained by the penitent confession of their sins, and by the exercise of good works: or to express myself in their own words, :, “ , prayers, the change of the name, and the change of practice:" as also by afflictions, whether sent by God and patiently borne, or spontaneously taken: hence fastings, sackcloth, abstinence from the use of the marriage bed, scourging, if necessary, frequent legal washings, and sacrifices for sin. But to nothing do they attribute so much expiatory virtue as to those things which must be done on the anniversary day of expiation, by which they imagined all the iniquities of all the Israelites are taken away. In fine, if perhaps any guilt remained, they fancied that was washed away by death: hence that solemn saying and 77793. Let death be an expiation. And thus they thought their sins were expiated. But they believed that life could not be obtained otherwise, than by the merits of their own works: and that therefore God had so multi

« EelmineJätka »