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Lastly. They quote i Pet. c. iii. v. 18-20. To make this text as strong in their favour as possible, they introduce the words “that were" in prison, and hence argue that they have been delivered from it by Christ's preaching, which cannot be hell, because there is no remission from it. They forget, however, that Christ preached in two ways; personally in the days of his flesh, or mediately by his spirit in bis servants. Thus Eph. c. ii. v. 17; 1 Pet. c. i. v. 11. Now Noah was a preacher of righteousness. 2 Pet. c. fi. v. 5; and lience Christ preached through him. The time of the preaching is set forth in v. 20, and their punishment was destruction by the flood for disobedience. Hence no agreement with purgatory, as this latter is only for venial sing, which they cannot say was the case of the antediluvians, who are described as corrupt and abominable.-(Gen. c. vi. v. 5—7; 2 Pet. c. ii. v. 5.)
III. The grounds of our opposition. The first reason is, that it gives a wrong view of the nature of sin. They divide sins into mortal and venial. The former is a grievous offence, which destroys the soul, if not atoned for. The latter, a smaller offence, which exposes us to temporal punishment. (See Genel. Catechism, and Abridgment of Christian Doctrine, p. 113.) Thus they teach all men are not mortal sinners, or do not deserve to go to hell. We contend, that all have sinned (Rom. c. iii. v. 23): that sin is the transgression of the law (1 John, c. iii. v. 4); and that the wages of it are death. (Rom. c. vi. v. 23.) See further, Isa. ii. v. 10; Ezek. c. xvii. v. 4. We admit different degrees of punishment; but all deserve death ; all men deserve to perish.
The second reason is, that it denies the perfection of Christ's work, and the efficacy of Christ's blood. Christ made a full redemption (Jobo, c. i. v. 29°; 1 Pet. c. i. v. 19; 1 John, c. ii. v. 2). His blood is perfectly efficacious (Rom. c. iii. v. 25; Eph. c. i. v. 7: 1 John, c. i. v.7; Rev. c. i. v. 5). If these declarations are true, what need of purgatorial fire ? Hence men cannot hold to both. They must lessen the perfections of Christ's work, and thus oppose the truth of God.
The third reason is—That it leads men away from the sanctifying influence of the Spirit. The eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, marks out this influence as essential (v. 9) and sufficient (v. 10, 11); and yet Romanists look for their purification in fire; and hence individually are ignorant of the work of the Spirit. They object that all have sin, though in grace, and not imputed, (Psalm xxxii. v. 1, 2)—uot continued, only when in the body. (Rom. c. vii. v. 24.)
The last reason is--That it contradicts the scriptural account of the dead, as in life so in death, men are divided into two classes. (1 John, v. 19; Mal. c. vii. v. 13, 14; Luke c. xvi. v. 20—31.) The state of believers after death is manifestly opposed to the idea of torturing
fire. They are in peace (Luke'c. xi. v, 29) with Christ, (Philip.i. 2; 2 Cor. c. v. v. 6,7), and in a state of rest (Rev. c. xiv. v. 13) with Christ in paradise (Luke c. xxiii. v. 43). Compared with (2 Cor. c. xii. v. 2–4, these are explicit. How glorious their bope, how jealous of all interference with it; how sad the change for Pope Innocent's state !-(See Philpot's 1st Letter, p. 129.)
Their evil effects.-1. It leads men into a twofold deception, as to their sins and their true hopes.-2. It robs Christ of his glory as a perfect Saviour.-3. It exalts the priesthood's power, and yet leads them to the merchandize of Trent.--(See Rules of Purgatorian Society.)
JUSTIFICATION BY CHRIST ONLY.
The doctrine of salvation by Christ only is the most glorious that the mind of man can contemplate, and the most consoling that the heart of man can cherish ; and if its discussion be not attended with ihat dangerous triumph which accompanies the exposure of the glaring corruptions and absurdities of Romanism, it is nevertheless incomparably more profitable in winning souls to Christ. The setting forth also of this fundamental tenet of our religion, which was justly termed by Luther “ articulus stantis aut cadentis ecclesiæ," brings to light the popery which lurks in the bosom of Protestantism, and repudiates the preaching of those who proclaim a half gospel, which is greedily listened to by the natural man. The notion that man is only
very far gone," instead of having wholly departed, (quam longissimè, as he is most scripturally described in our Latin article), from his original righteousness, involves in it the existence of partial merit in the saints of God, both antecedently and subsequently to their saving faith in Christ. And as the fathers of Trent admit (sess. 6, on Justification, c. 8) that “ faith is the beginning, the foundation, and the root of all justification, without wbich it is impossible to please God, and to attain the fellowship of his sons; and we are for this reason said to be gratuitously justified, because none of the things which precede justification, whether faith or works, deserve the grace of justification," the above mentioned opinion, which is held alas ! by many Protestants, justly entitles them to the designation, on the matter of justification, of Ultra-Romanists.
I need hardly observe, that the discussion of this doctrine demands on the part of the Protestant advocate, a spirit of the deepest humility, the most fervent prayer, the most earnest faith, and the most ardent piety. He here enters upon a contest, wherein he must be prepared not only to welcome the offence of the cross, and to cope with the open hostility of the infidel, the Socinian, and the Romanist; but he must also fortify himself against the popery of the natural man, and against the utmost malignity of the powers of darkness,
whose empire is dissolved from the instant that Christ is received into the sinner's heart in the fulness of his glory.
There are three things of which man in his natural state is utterly ignorant. 1st. The infinite transcendancy of the divine holiness, Endly. The beauty, spirituality, and perfection, of the divine law. --3rdly. The unutterable corruption of the human heart. Of the divine omnipotence, the visible creation affords to him a correct, although a very inadequate, idea; he contemplates with awful wonder the infinite power of that Being, in whose sight a thousand worlds are less than so many grains of sand in the hand of the giant.
The unspeakable wisdom of Deity, again, is so clearly manifested in the infinitely great and the infinitely little, that he cannot be blind to it. The self-existence of God, is a self-evident truth. Even the divine justice, authoritatively revealed and declared as it is in holy writ, is not difficult of recognition. The breast of Deity being warped by no prejudices and weakened by no infirmities, his omniscience knowing all things, and his omnipresence witnessing all things, none being able to hide themselves from, or to escape, his wrath, hell itself affording no covering from his all-seeing eye, no retreat from his all-pervading power, bis judgments must be both inevitable and perfect. But with regard to the holiness of God, this is an attribute which human corruption never can inwardly perceive and feel, until
grace of God has removed the film of the natural blindness, and has breathed the breath of life into the natural deadness of the human heart. When the Holy Spirit has unsealed the eyes of the soul and quickened it, then, and then only, has it the inclination and the power to approach the contemplation of the infioite holiness of Jehovah ; and at the very instant that this essential perfection of Deity is feelingly ascertained, the horn of human self-sufficiency and pride is humbled beneath the dust. It was thus that the prophet Isaiah, when he had a vision of the glory of God, forth with exclaimed, “Woe is me, for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.” (Isa. c. vi. v. 5.) It was thus that the patriarch Job, who had previously vindicated his own righteousness, when he had visibly beheld his infinite Creator, sinking under the sense of his own vileness, answered the Lord, and said, “ I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor myself in dust and ashes.” (Job, c. xlii. v. 6.) Even the angels of God are described as being unequal to gaze upon the effulgence of the divine holiness, and as veiling their faces with their wings, whilst “one cried to another, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isa. c. 6. v. 3.) And in a figurative representation of the church, it is written, “ And they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy. Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” (Rev. c. iv. v. 8.) This infinitely sacred attribute is, perhaps, more intelligibly displayed to man by the evidences, which are presented to him in the history of God's providence, of His intense hatred of evil.
He discerns it in the sentence of death passed upon our first parents in consequence of their transgression; in the destruction of all flesh with the exception of one family by the deluge; in the showering down of fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah; and in the various judgments inflicted by the divine vengeance upon guilty nations. But most forcibly is this essential characteristic of Deity depicted in the awakening of the sword of Jehovah against his Fellow, in the pouring forth of the dregs of the cup of trembling upon the head of Jesus, in order that an apostate people might be saved without sullying the glorious perfections of the Godhead.
Secondly, Respecting the extent of the requirements of the perfect law of God, a most lamentable ignorance prevails, as well among Protestants as Romanists. The law of God is a spiritual law, which speaketh to the heart; eternal blessings are attached to the perfect obedience of it; to disobedience is appended everlasting wrath : “ The soul that sinneth it shall die.” There is not a man upon the face of the earth, sanctified or unsanctified, who for a single day has observed the first and second great precepts of the law in all their fulness. “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and all thy mind, and all thy soul, and all thy strevgth, and thy neighbour as thyself.” How indescribably supereminent, how different from all other love, ought the love of man to be towards his Great Creator, the love of a guilty atom towards a God of infinite glory and majesty! In the love of God, as set forth in the abovecited holy commandment, are involved an ever-abiding rejoicing in his existence and presence; an unceasing delight in his perfections, a perpetual leaning upon him, as upon a sovereign Father, for his support and counsel; an hallowed communion with him; a boly fear of offending him; an intense zeal for his honour and glory; a joy in obeying his gracious will; an hatred of evil; the most holy aspirations, the most fervent and heart-born prayers ; in fine, a daily sacrifice of love ascending upwards from the altar of the heart like the sinoke from Abel's offering, neither diverted by the love of self nor by the opposition of a gainsaying world. The second commandment, again, which describes our duty to ourselves and to our fellow-men, is similarly binding upon the thoughts of the heart; it enjoins purity of thought and deed, and the continual exercise of charity towards man. By a necessary consequence it not only forbids the thinking, speaking, or doing of any-thing to our neighbour's detriment, but it commands the devising, speaking, and performing of all that lies in our power to advance his good, and this every day of our lives. Hence it is as cerlain as our own being, that every son of Adam who has existed, who does exist, or who shall exist, will be found guilty of the breach of both of the tables of the law at the judgment-seat of Christ, unless he appears in a borrowed righteousness, provided for bim by his merciful God. In the above precepts we cannot but recognise the perfection of reason and beauty; our disobedience, therefore, is without excuse, and the evidences of our corruption cannot be mis
taken. Man has received every-thing from God, the glorification, therefore, and service of his God, ought to be his supreme desire and the very joy of his heart; the man who should behave towards an earthly father, as the natural man behaves towards his heavenly Father, (and the thing is impossible, seeing that no earthly father can confer upon his child a hnndred millionth part of the blessings which God has prepared for man ;) such a man, I say, would be scouted and driven out of society as a fiend, unworthy of communion even with apostate man. And if such bé the depravity of the heart of man, how blind is his understanding, how false are its perceptions of true wisdom! In Jehovah only is the infinite perfection of all that is inconceivably glorious. Why do we not then, except that our minds are brutalized, unceasingly and reverentially adore his omnipotence, his unimaginable wisdom, his inviolable truth, his infallible justice, bis unspeakable mercy, bis infinitely transcendant holiness, the unutterable splendour of his everlasting throne, and his love, alike unfathomable and incomprehensible? and why again, except that our moral and spiritual palate is completely vitiated, do we not love the law of God ?-a law whose spiritual beauty exacts respect even from the enemies of God-a law which prohibits all that is subversive of human comfort and degrading to human nature, and which commands all that is essential to human welfare, and honourable to man; a law, whose precepts, if perfectly obeyed, are calculated to compass the harmony and happiness of individuals, of families, of empires, of the earth, and of the universe!
Thirdly, The depravity of man is partially acknowledged by all, and for this palpable reason, that none can absolutely deny it. Ambition, self-aggrandizement, and vain-glory, at the expense of justice, humanity, and virtue, with their attendant train of cares, vices, treacheries, splendid crimes, bloodshed, and devastation, pollute the rolls of history; and sins and imperfections abound on every side. In the sacred volume the consequences of the fall are described with the most heart-rending fidelity; we behold them in the murder of Abel; in the wickedness of the antediluvians; in the abominations of Sodom ; in the impiety of the Egyptians; in the depravity of the Canaanites ; in the pride of Babylon, Tyre, and Nineveh, whose pomp and glory have descended into an eternal grave, in the apostacy of the Jews, in the idolatry of all the rest of mankind; and in the past and present rejection of the Messiah, both by Jew and Gentile. Nevertheless, self-love conceals from individuals the extent of their own guilt; and from the degrees and proportions of apostacy and crime which prevail around, something like merit is educed by them; a species of self-flattery, almost as absurd as if some evil spirit were to stand up for his merits because he was not quite as black as Beelzebub the prince of devils. It is here that the perfect law of God is the schoolmaster which conducts the sinner to Christ (Gal. c. iii. v. 24); it has fitly been described as the mirror wherein alone human nature is faithfully reflected. Man approaches it in the