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structions from the prophet Daniel, and access to " the oracles of God," as far as then extant: and it appears that at length he believed, with a penitent and lively faith. His example may recommend to us the British and Foreign Bible Society, and similar institutions, and stimulate us to disperse the good seed of divine truth ; as, by the blessing of God, it may grow and produce an increase in the most unpromising situations : but what has this to do with the case of those gentiles who have not the word of God? To suppose that such persons may be saved by the light, or rather the darkness of nature, benumbs the soul, and represents all endeavours to evangelize the heathen world, as superfluous, visionary, and enthusiastical; without excepting, not only the most eminent of modern missionaries, but even the apostles and primitive evangelists themselves.
· The works of creation, and the law written upon men's hearts, always supplied a ground for faith, and a rule for practice. At every period of * the world, to fear God, and to work righteousness, have been discoverable and practicable duties. Men will be judged according to the * light which has been afforded them by the dispensation under which they have lived, whether it shall have been the law of nature, the law of "Moses, or the law of the gospel, all equally derived from the same divine Author. The virtuous heathen, the obedient Jew, and the sincere • Christian, will all owe their salvation to the pre
cious “ blood of the Lamb slain from the founda* tion of the world." The degrees of happiness, as we are taught to believe, will vary; but although they are all eternal, and all flow from the same divine source, the faithful disciples of the · blessed Jesus may humbly hope, that a peculiar inheritance is reserved in heaven for them, as "" the prize of their high calling in Christ.” 1
There may be as 'virtuous heathen' now as in former days, and indeed this would be no very high attainment: but unless some clear instances can be adduced, of such men as Cornelius, among those in ancient and modern times who have been left wholly destitute of divine revelation; I must adhere, with decided approbation, to the energetic language of our Article; and must consider all that is spoken concerning the salvation by Christ, without faith in him, (when meant of adult persons,) as unscriptural, nay antiscriptural ; as contrary to the express doctrine of our established church; and as suited to damp our thankfulness for our peculiar mercies, and to cut the sinews of all exertion to communicate them to those who now" sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to “ guide their feet into the way of peace.” Obedient Jews in ancient times were believers, as it has been shewn: and it does not appear, on the ground of the New Testament, that any obedience can avail the Jews who persist in unbelief, and opposition to the cause of their rejected and crucified Messiah.
Ref. 262, 263.
Whether some degree of righteousness remains in
. It will scarcely be denied that some acts of mercy, justice, and self-denial are recorded in * profane history; and therefore upon these occasions, as far at least as external deeds are concerned, men were able to counteract the depravity 'introduced into their nature by the fall of Adam.''
The only question on this passage is this, Were these things good in the sight of God?' If they were not, the fact is not denied by Calvinists, nor by Calvin himself.- As man is a sociable animal, he is also propense, as by a natural instinct, to cherish and preserve society: and therefore we see that there are in the minds of all men universal impressions of honesty and order.'? Cer‘tain persons have existed in all ages who, by ' nature as a guide, have been intent on virtue
during their whole life. Nor do I hesitate, be• cause many
may be marked in their morals; ' for by that very pursuit (studio) of honesty (ho
nestatis, what is honourable) they gave a proof, that there was something of purity in nature
itself. What price virtues of this kind may ' have before God, we shall discourse when we
treat of the merits of works.'—' Some by shame, * others, by the fear of laws are restrained, that they should not burst forth into many kinds of
i Ref. 9.
? Calv. Inst. B.II. c. ii. sect. 13.
filthiness : others because they think it conduces 'to an honourable method of living, to which
truly they aspire. . Others emerge above the ' vulgar sort, that they may retain, by their own 'majesty, the rest in their duty. Thus God in · his providence bridles the perversity of nature, - lest it break forth into action : but he does not ? inwardly cleanse it.' _Cicero speaks in energetic language of Catiline's self-denial. Bands of robbers must observe some law of justice on dividing their spoil. Even murderers have, on some occasions, performed detached actions of mercy and compassion : and seducers, whose conduct is as cruel as that of murderers, are not unfrequently noted for liberality and beneficence, where the objects of their criminal passions are wholly out of the question. We even allow that, from regard to health, or interest, or reputation, numbers of ungodly men impose restraints on their strong incli nations, even of a permanent nature, and are habitually sober, continent, and virtuous. Nor is there any one who, having nature as a guide, cannot arrive at virtue.'2 But this, not being done from regard to God, is 'not good in his
sight:'norindeed in its own nature; as it springs entirely from corrupt and selfish motives.
* The understanding was greatly impaired by the fall; but no one will maintain that it was utterly destroyed, or that what remains is incapable of improvement.'3 Calvin admits so much on this subject, in the second chapter of the second book of his Institutes, that I apprehend few anticalvinists would require more ; except as any maintain that the base metal of nature can be improved into “ gold tried in the “ fire,”' by refining and burnishing.
I Inst. B. II. c. iii. sect. 3. · Cicero : translation of note, Ref. 9.
3 Ref. 9.
Every good affection towards God and towards 'man was not totally extinguished.'? We do indeed maintain that every good affection towards . God’ was totally extinguished by the fall. “That “ which is born of the flesh is flesh:” and “ the “ carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not “ subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be: έδε δύναlαι. . “ So then they that are in the flesh can“ not please God :" dúvarias.- If natural instinctive love to near relations, and various other social affections, in which God is not regarded, be denominated good; then good affections towards man were not totally extinguished. But, if no love be 'good before God,' except that holy love which his law requires, and which in believers " is the fruit “ of the Spirit;" then every good affection towards
man’ was totally extinguished : and nothing remained but mere animal instinct, and self-love, modified, and extending itself to various other objects, in subserviency to a man's own supposed good ; according to Mr. Pope's system in his Essay on Man:
"Self love but serves the virtuous mind to wake,
Rev. iii. 18.
*: Ref. 10.