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as it has been usually taught by Protestant divines, that the justification of a sinner, as soon as he truly believes in him whose name is The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, is complete ; or as the apostle expresses it, All that bebieve are justified from all things, Acts xiii. 39. and to such there is no condemnation, Rom. viii. 1.
As to the text quoted from the Proverbs, Mr. Bellamy's opponents teach, as the doctrine of it, that none evidence themselves to be partakers of the pardoning mercy of God in Christ, but such as are sincerely exercised in confessing and forsaking their sins. To say that such as are brought to this exercise shall have or receive
mercy in the after course of their lives, Psal. xxiii. 6. and at the day of judgment, 2 Tim. i. 18. is perfectly consistent with our maintaining, that the mer. cy of a pardoned state is in the order of nature, before that exercise. Besides, it may be observed, that the expression in this text may include the confession of open and scandalous sins before men, and the exercise of mercy toward them, and indeed the practice of good works in general, as is evident from the import of forsaking sin, and from parallel texts, Matth. v. 7. Prov. xiv. 21. Thus good works in general will be introduced as previous conditions of our justification before God. If our old reformers had heard such doctrine
tified by their good works, because they are condemned for the want of them. Calvin's Institutions, Book ii. Chap. xviii. sect. 10. The contraries here, says Mr. Calvin, are not equal : for one deviation, however small, from the pure and perfect rule of God's law renders a person unrighteous and liable to eternal death, Jam. ii. 10. But it is not one or a few good works, but an unreinitted course of obedience, without any the least de. fect, that will constitute a person righteous in the sight of God. And it is a maxim with regard to a particular action, That it is not morally good, unless it has all the requisites of a good work; the want of one of them renders it evil.
Mught amongst Protestants, would they not have cried out with the apostle, O foolish people, who hath bewitcha ed you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth crucified among you?
With regard to Jerem. iv. 1, 3, 4. Ezek. xxxii. 11. and other texts which inculcate the duty of repentance, it may be observed, that, in such passages, repentance is either taken in a large sense for the whole of conversion, in which faith in Christ, receiving the forgiveness of sins, as well as repentance strictly taken, is included; or the duty is simply enjoined ; while the right manner of performing it, and its connexion with privileges and with other duties, are to be learned by comparing various passages of scripture on the same subject. Such commands are given to a person or people both before justification for conviction and after justification for direction, with declarations of a sure connexion between true repentance and life, (whether by life be meant temporal comfort or eternal blessedness)-in full consistency with the doctrine of Mr. Bellamy's opponents. Nor can any texts serve his purpose but such as would teach that God had eis ther brought persons to the actual exercise of true re. pentance or had promised to do so, before or without the faith of his pardoning mercy in Christ. For, as we have already shewn, to say, that repentance is before a state of pardon is the same thing with saying, that it is before faith in Jesus Christ. But no such text has been or can be produced.
Another text quoted by Mr. Bellamy is that remarkable one in Isai. lv. 7. Let the wicked man forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him Heturn unto Jehovah and he will have mercy upon him*, and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon. It is evidently the design of this text, to set before the sinDers the mercy of God in Christ, that he may first believe it or trust in it for pardon and for heart-turning grace; and then that by that faith or trust, he may exercise true repentance in turning from his wicked way. and thoughts. “ Here," says Calvin upon the place, “ the context is to be carefully attended to: for the
prophet shews, that men must have the previous faith « or confidence of pardon, otherwise they cannot be “ brought unto the exercise of repentance.-The doc“ trine of the Popish doctors on the nature of repent-, « ance is indeed egregious trilling. But even though “ they were to teach the true nature of it, it would still * be unprofitable; whilst they omit what is the foun" dation of all right exercise of repentance, the doce * trine of free forgiveness of sin ; by which alone true
peace of conscience can ever be attained. And indeed « while the sinner is a stranger to this peace of consci
ence, and views God only as a judge dragging him 6 to his tribunal to give an account of his ill-spent life, « he will flee from God, instead of returning to him with godly fear and filial obedience."
But farther, says Mr. Bellamy,“ in token of repent ance as what must precede forgiveness, the high “ priest under the law was, on the great day of atone“ ment, to lay both his hands on the head of a live goat
* This expression might be rendered, who will have mercy; the copulative particle vzu being frequently put for the relative pronoun, as in Psalın cxviii. 27. God is the Lord who &c. or we may read with Dr. Lowth, For he quill have merc ,--for he will pardon. So this particle must be understood in Gen. xx. 3. and many other places.
63 and confess over him all the iniquities of the children $ of Israel, and all their transgressions, in all their sins,
and thus put them upon the head of the goat to be “ sent away into the wilderness. As this was to be $ done on that solemn occasion with relation to the “ iniquities of the children of Israel in general, so, if
any particular man at any time committed a sin, he “ was to bring his bullock, and, in token of confession « and repentance, to lay his hand upon his head, and 66 substitute it to die in his room: and if he had not “ only sinned against the great God, but in his sin ins jured his neighbour, he must first, as became a true 6 penitent, make restitution before the sacrifice was 66 offered.”
Answer. The act of the persons in the cases now mentioned, in laying their hands upon the head of the devoted victim, was a profession of their faith in Christ Jesus as the true propitiatory sacrifice, and supposed, that they trusted in him for the pardon of all their sins. In this act, supposing it to have been sincere, they were actually in a pardoned state, (this being the case with all true believers ;) and therefore as this act was before the public confession of their iniquities, so it evidenced their pardoned state to be before that confession; before restitution, and other tokens of repent
This is a great confirmation of the doctrine of Mr. Bellamy's opponents about the priority of a pardoned state to the actual exercise of evangelical repentance: and what followed the confession of sins in the offering of the victim, the sprinkling of blood, the sending away of the live goat, was answerable to those intimations and comfortable manifestations of pardon which the good Spirit of God grants in and after the
exercise of gospel repentance, by means of the word, sacraments and prayer.
Again, says Mr. Bellamy, “ Cod declares to the “ people of Israel, that after they should become truly “penitent, then he would forgive them, Lev. xxvi. 41, " 42. If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity 66 of their fathers : if their uncircumcised heart be hum“ bled, and they then accept the punishment of their ini“ quity ;--then will I remember my covenant with Jacob. “ Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 33. where God declares concerning « the Jews in Babylon, that he will first bring them to « repentance, and then restore them to their land. " Solomon, in his prayer, at the dedication of the " temple, expressly and repeatedly holds forth this doc“ trine, that repentance is before forgiveness. One 6 cannot well see in how strong a point of light this is (6 set without reading the whole prayer. The temple “ was a type of the Son of God incarnate. And in all « their prayers, the penitent Jews looked towards the “ holy temple, and then God heard in heaven his dwell“ing place. When heaven is shut up, and there is no “ rain, because they sinned against thee, if they pray
towards this place and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, Sc. then hear thou in heaven, and forgive, &c."
Answer. These passages will not answer Mr. Bellamy's purpose, unless it could be shewn that the forgiveness therein mentioned is necessarily to be understood of that sentence by which God, in the first act of faith, brings a sinner into a justified state ; and consequently, that all the exercise that precedes this forgiveness must be without or before faith. But this cannot be proved : for the exercises, that preceded