Page images
[ocr errors]

vihich necessarily belongs to him as the judge of all the earth, having been abundantly, glorified by the satisfaction of our Lord Jesus Christ, his good-will to. wards man has obtained a full and honourable vent ; and that all the spiritual blessings, proceeding from his special love to a certain number of mảnkind-sinners, are infalibly secured to them by that satisfaction, with out any other procuring cause.

That Mr. Bellamy's expression just now mentionod is injurious to the trath of the gospel appears from such oönsiderations as the following:

1. The immediate effect of the death of Christ is not a possibility of reconciliation, but reconciliation itself. The reconciliation, effected by the death of Christ, includes both the appeasing of God's wrath against us and the procuring of the removal or slaying of our eninity against God. The former of these two things appears to be meant by this expression of the apostle : For when we were enemies, we were reconciled to' God by the death of his Son, Rom. v. 10. which words are not to be understood of our conversion ; for that is intended by the following words, We shall be. served by his life; conversion being more immediately r the effect of Christ's life than of his death; and being here as plainly distinguished from our reconciliation by his death, as the effect from the cause. Hence in the Syriac, which is the most ancient translation extant of the New Testament, the first clause of this verse is rendered, Gad is reconciled to us by the death of his Son, It is usual in Scripture to say, the offender is reconciled, even when the thing most directly meant is that the offended party is appeased. Thus in Matth. v, 24. our Lord directs a person, who remembers, that kis

other, hath ought against him, to go and be reconciled to his brother, that is, to endeavour, by offering satisfaction, to turn away or appease his brother's anger. In the same sense, the wife, that had deserted her husband, is enjoined to be reconciled to him, 1 Corinth. vii. 11. When God is said to be a God of peace, and to be in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them ; nothing less can be meant, than that he is reconciled in Christ.

Objection. God is not reconciled to all men. Those that believe not are condemned already ; the wrath of God abideth on them: God is angry with them every day.


Answer. There are two ways wherein God reveals himself to fallen men. One of these ways is that of the covenant of works. Here he reveals himself as condemning every sinner, that is, all mankind considered as in their natural state. Every child of Adam, as such, is a child of wrath. By this covenant, in itself, we cannot know that God is either reconcilable or reconciled. Nothing is revealed here but the wrath of God against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of

Hence we need not wonder, that the scripture so often declares all, that are under this broken covenant, all unbelievers or persons out of Christ, to be under the wrath and curse of God. The other way, in which God reveals himself to fallen men, is, that of the covenant of grace : wherein he regards men no otherwise than as they are in his beloved Son, in whom he is ever well pleased or intirely reconciled.

। If it be said, that in the calls of the gospel, God' proclaims that he is willing to be reconciled to those

that, persisting in their unbelief, are still under the coas venant of works.

We answer, that the word of God represent him as. irreconcileable to men, according to the tenor of the. broken covenant of works ; but as entirely reconciled to them, when they are found betaking themselves to. the covenant of grace. The willingness of God revealed in the calls given to unbelievers, is not a willingness to be appeased or reconciled, as if something remainod to be done by way of expiation or satisfaction for sin ; but a willingness, that they should renounce the covenant of works, and betake themselves to the covenant of grace; a willingness, that they should know, and acknowledge God according to the gospel revelation of him, as a reconciled God in Christ*.

2. The view that saving faith obtains of God in, the glass of the gospel, is a view of him, not as recon. cileable, but as actually reconciled. Faith apprehends God as in Christ reconciling us to himself, not impus ting our trespasses unto us. The language of faith is, not, that God is, on his part, willing to be reconciled and that I must do something, oli inine to reconcile. him ; but that he is already manifesting himself as a: God of peace through Jesus Christ; who made peace by the blood of his cross As soon as we have the least grain of true faith, the face of God begins to ap pear mild, serene and propitious to us. As we make

* The substance of what is here advanced is expressed by Dr. Owen in the following words of his Theologoumena": Oranfs Dei revelatio ad fæcus aliquod pertinet. Duo autem sunt fædera. Deum inter et homines ; operum unum, gratiæ alterum. Ex prioris fæderis tenore Deus placabiles non est. Revelatio ad posterius pertinens, non Deum placabilem, sed placatum, reconciliatum et mundum sibi reconciliantem, prædicare debct.

progress in the exercise of faith, our views of his ami able countenance become more clear and distinct. Though believers during the present state, labour under much ignorance of God in Christ ; yet so certain and so efficacious is the sight, which in believing, they obtain, of the glory of the Lord, that they are, more and more, changed into the same imaget:

3. This view of the gospel of Christ, as if it represent God as only reconcileable, not reconciled, flats ters men's legal pride, and derogates from the perfec. tion of the satisfaction of Christ.' Is God, as yet, only reconcileable to us? Is he not reconciled by the death, of his Son? By what other means is he to be at last, reconciled? Why, says Mr. Bellamy, by our repenting and returning home to him. Thus, it would seem, that, by Christ's obedience unto death, God is only rean dy to Þe reconciled: but by our own good excercises the work is accomplished: God is actually reconciled: A very subordinate part is thus ascribed to what Christ hath done and suffered'; while the glory of turning az way the wrath of God from us is ascribed to our itines. rent rigliteousness.

4. If the gospel represented God as only reconcilex. abk, not reconeiled, it would afford us no ground at all for the hope of salvation. The doctrine, which makes any works of righteousness done by us the foederal or proper condition of our recorciliation'to God, is desti: tute of any foundation in the word of God. But surp posing that God'should offer to be réconciled to us upon condition of our thinking one thought truly and spiritually good ; our case would still he hopeless. For

* 2 Corinth: iii. 18. Calvin's Institutions, chap. iii scct. 19.

As we have no natural ability to think such a thought, so we have no ground to expect that an unreconciled God will give us the least crumb of saving grace, by which we might be enabled to think it. In fine, this; truth, that God is reconciled in Christ, is at the bottom. of every communication of his grace to us, and of every good motion of our souls towards him.


Of Marks or Evidences of a state of



MR. MARSHAL and the other divines, whotti, Mr Bellamy opposes, are very careful to distinguish between the assurance of salvation which is in the direct act of faith, and assurance, that we are already in a gracious state. “ Observe diligently” says Mr Marshal, 6 that the assurance directed unto is not an assurance 6 that we have already received Christ and his salva. ution, or that we have been already brought into a "state of grace ; but only that God is pleased gracie. * ously to give Christ and his salvation unto us, and to u bring us into a state of grace ; though we have been. " altogether in a state of sin and death, until the present « time. So that this doctrine doth not at all tend to u breed presumption in wicked and unregenerate men, " that their state is good already ; but only encourag“ eth to come to Christ confidently for a good state.”. “ Mark well," says the same author in another place,

the difference between these two questions : Whe

« PreviousContinue »