« ForrigeFortsett »
III. Thirdly, To propofe fome of those Virtues that our Saviour was moft eminent for, and which are of the greatest Use in human Life, and ferioufly to recommend them to your Imitation.
I begin with the first Thing, The Obligation that lies upon Chriftians to follow Chrift's Example. And this fhall be my Argument at this Time.
And I think it the more needful to be infifted on in regard of a Notion that fome People are too forward to entertain, which afferts, that the Life of Chrift was not defign'd for an Example to us, but for a Means to procure God's Acceptance of us. They explain their Mind thus: No Man can be accepted by God, and entitled to his Favour, unless he be perfectly righteous in the Eye of God. Now to make a Man so, he muft either have a perfect inherent Righteousness of his own, or the perfect Righteousness of another must be imputed to him, as to all Intents and Purposes to be made his own, and to be look'd upon as fuch. The former fort of Righteousness no Man can pretend to; nor is he obliged to have it under the fecond Covenant. The latter fort of Righteousness therefore is that we muft rely upon, and by which we are to expect to be juftified. Now this is no U 4
other than the Righteousness of Jefus Chrift, who only was perfectly righteous: This Righteousness of his being made ours, being imputed to us, is that that must make us perfectly righteous in the Sight of God. As therefore the End of Chrift's Death was to fatisfy for the Breach of God's Laws in our ftead, we having all finned, and fo deferved God's Wrath; fo the End of his Life was actually to fulfil the Law in our ftead, that we might be accounted righteous before God, as if we had fulfilled it our felves. As his paffive Obedience, his Death and Sufferings, were defigned for this End to be imputed to all Believers, for the excufing them from the Punishment due to their Sins; fo his active Obedience, the Righteousness of his Life, was defigned for this End to be imputed to all Believers to make them appear righteous before God, tho' they were not righteous in their own Perfons. Now the Inftrument, fay they, whereby this Righteousness, this Obedience of Chrift, both Active and Paffive, is made ours; the Hand that conveys it to us, is no other than a lively Faith; that is in their Senfe, a Believing in Jefus Chrift, a difclaiming all our own Righteoufnefs, and confidently applying his Righteoufnefs to ourselves. And whoever doth this, is, in God's Account, a righteous Man without more ado, having all Chrift's Rightecufnefs fo imputed to him as to be made his own.
This is a Scheme of Chriftian. Religion that fome Men have laid down to themfelves; and if it be a true one, then what becomes of the Exemplarity of Chrift's Life? what becomes of our Obligations to walk as he walketh? Why verily it all falls to the Ground. For fince (according to this Hypothefis) the very Defign of Chrift's Life was to fulfil all Righteoufnefs; and all that Righteousness of his is made ours by Faith; what need can there be of our fulfilling the fame Righteousness over again, by endeavouring to copy out Christ's Example in our Lives? I own that a great many good Men may have been bred up in the Ufe of fuchExpreffions ast hefe that I have now been mentioning, but yet abhor the Confequences that I would draw from them: For all that they mean by Chrift's Righteoufnefs being imputed to us, and made ours, is no more than this, that we are justified and accepted by God purely and folely for the Merits of Jefus Chrift, and that not for any Righteousness of their own. But they own nevertheless that we are all bound, nay even under Pain of Damnation, to endeavour as much as we can to be virtuous in our Perfons, and to imitate our bleffed Lord in all the Inftances of Virtue and Holiness that he hath set before us. Now if this be all their Meaning, God forbid that any Man fhould open his Mouth againft it; for it is undoubtedly the Scrip
ture Doctrine, tho' the Words whereby they exprefs their Meaning are very improper and unfcriptural. But I would never difpute with any one about Words, where we agree in the Senfe. That which I oppose, and which all Men, that have any Regard to the Honour of the Gofpel, and the Intereft of Souls, muft be concerned to oppose, is the Antinomian Principle, that is to fay, that the Righteoufnefs of Chrift's Life is fo imputed to Believers, as to ferve inftead of their own Righteousness; that Chrift's perfect Obedience to the moral Law hath discharged us from all Obligation to the Obfervance of it. So that provided we do apply this his Obedience, this his Righteoufnefs to ourselves by Faith, there is no need of our being righteous as he was righteous, and framing our Lives after his holy Example. This, I fay, is both an absurd and a pernicious Doctrine, and not to be endured among Chriftians.
If I fhould fet myself to fhew you this at large, and expofe this Doctrine in all the Parts and Confequences of it, and to fhew how contradictory it is to the Account which the Scripture gives of this Matter, I fhould fpend more of my Time, and of your Patience, than I am now willing to do. And therefore I will only remark two Things concerning it, and which are veryobvious.
First, it fuppofes Chrift not to have performed that which he came into the World to do. Secondly, it fuppofeth that he came into the World with a very ill Defign.
Firft, I fay, this Doctrine difparageth Christ's Undertaking, and fuppofeth him not to have done that which he came into the World to do. For did not our bleffed Saviour come into the World for this End, that he might redeem us from all Evil and Mifery, and put us into a State of real Happiness? There is no Body doubts of it. And now is not a State of Sin and Wickedness a State of Slavery to the Devil and our own Lufts, and a very great Evil? Nay, is it not the greatest Evil in the World? No Body, that hath any serious Senfe of Things will deny it. But now, according to the aforefaid Doctrine, that the Righteousness of Chrift is fo imputed to Believers, that they are thereby accounted righteous without being fo in their own Perfons; and that this is all the Righteousness required to qualify us for Heaven: I fay, according to this Doctrine, after all that Chrift hath done or fuffered for Believers, they may remain in this evil State for ever; they may continue all their Lives long under the Tyranny of vicious Habits, and be perfect Bondmen to the Devil, (if vile Affections and Lufts can make a Man fo) and go fo into the other World. Chrift