Images de page
PDF
ePub

رو

gift :' for you receive not the compensation and remuneration of your labours ; but all these things come by grace through Jesus Christ.” *

ARGUMENT II. Eternal life is given to believers by way of inheritance ; and therefore not by way of merit.

.-“ Which is the earnest of our inheritance.” (Eph. i. 14.) “If children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” (Rom. viii. 17.) “ Who shall be heirs of salvation.” (Heb. i. 14.) This none can deny. And that it follows, that if they be heirs of glory, they have it not by the merit of their works, we see by Titus iii. 5, 7 : “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” And, Gal. iii. 18: “If the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise ; but God gave it to Abraham by promise." To have eternal life by the law and by works, is opposed to our having it by promise and by inheritance. And this may be farther confirmed; for if a believer merit his inheritance, then either he doth it by works done before his adoption; which Papists themselves will not say, who acknowledge eternal life not to be the wages of servants, but the portion of children ; and that merits cannot be in any who are not reconciled to God, and accepted of him. Or else it must be by works done after a man is adopted. But that cannot be neither ; because whoever merits, doth thereby acquire a right to something to which he had none before ; whereas every believer bath a right to the heavenly inheritance by his very adoption, and before those good works be wrought whereby it is pretended he merits it. “If children, then heirs," &c. (Rom. viii. 17.)

Exception. But,” say the Papists, “ believers have a right to heaven by their adoption ; yet must merit the actual possession of it.”

ANSWER. It is subtilly distinguished; as if an adopted person had not a title to the possession of the inheritance the very first moment he is adopted ; or as if a man might have a right to heaven, and yet not have a right to the possession of it. We acknowledge that obedience is required in a son before he come to possess his inheritance; yet that obedience, though antecedent to his possessing that inheritance, is only the way in which he is to come to it, and the means whereby he is to be fitted for it; but is not meritorious of it. There is no right to the inheritance acquired by his obedience which before he had not ; though farther fitness for, and suitableness to, it there inay be. The Israelites were to fight, and subdue their enemies, ere they possessed the promised land ; but their right to the possession of it they had before by the promise. And who can say that they were worthy of it merely because they fought for it?

ARGUMENT iv. Believers owe all to God; and therefore can merit nothing of him.They owe all to God, both as being his servants, to whom they are bound; and his beneficiaries, who have received all from him.

1. They are his servants.—“When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants.” (Luke xvii. 10.) “ Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price.” (1 Cor. vi. 19, 20.) What that price is, Peter tells us : « Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of Christ,” &c. (1 Peter i. 18, 19.) All the creatures are his servants, because made and employed and maintained by him ; but believers are more especially his servants, because they are redeemed by him, too, from being servants to sin and Satan, (by whom, though they were never rightfully servants, yet they were held in bondage,) and “ purchased” by him to be his own possession," Wepitoinois, (Eph. i. 14, ) his “peculiar people, and to do his work, to be “zealous of good works.” (Titus ii. 14.) I suppose, none can deny believers to be as much God's servants as any man's servants are his ; and that he hath as absolute a dominion over them as men ever can have over those who are theirs, being bought with a price as well as any. Now who knows not that servants are so their masters', that they are not their own, not sui juris [“ their own masters”]; cannot command themselves, not dispose of themselves, or their time, or their work ? All they have and all they do is their masters'. Believers, then, being thus God's servants, have nothing, do nothing, but what belongs to their Lord ; and so can deserve nothing at his hands by all the service they can do him, seeing they owe it all to him. Who indeed deserves any thing for doing what he is bound to do, and deserves punishment if he do not do? And, therefore, if God rewards his servants, he doth it out of his liberality, and because it pleaseth him to reward them ; not that any thing is due to them: and if he never should reward them, never had promised them a reward, yet still they, being servants, were bound to do his work. Hence our Saviour, in that, Luke xvii. 10, bids his disciples, when they “have done all that is commanded them,” or supposing they could and should do all, yet even then to acknowledge themselves to be but “unprofitable servants ; not only unprofitable to God, (so much the Papists will grant,) but unprofitable to themselves; in that, being bound by the condition of servants to obey their Lord, they could not deserve so much as thanks, (verse 9,) much less a reward. And so, in a word, if God give believers any thing, it is grace; if nothing, it is not injustice. He that would deserve any thing of his master must first be made free : manumission must go before merit.

* Ουκ ειπεν, “Η αντιμισθια ή σαρα του Θεου, αλλα, Το χαρισμα· ου γαρ αμοιβης και αντιδοσιν τονων ελαβετε, αλλα χαριτι ταυτα σαντα εγενετο εν Χριστώ Ιησου.-In Roτη. νι.

VOL. VI.

0

2. Believers owe all to God because they are his beneficiaries, and have received all from God.—“What hast thou that thou didst not receive ?” (1 Cor. iv. 7.) “It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Phil. ii. 13.) “ Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.” (2 Cor. iii. 5.) And indeed Papists themselves dare not in plain terms deny it; but in words confess it. And the more ancient and sounder Schoolmen roundly assert all the good we do, as well as enjoy, to come from God. No man,” says one, “is beforehand with God in doing any thing for God; but God himself in every good work and motion is the first mover and doer.” * And, “ Whatever we are,” saith another, “whatever we have, whether good actions, or good habits, or the use of them, it is all in us out of the liberality of God, freely giving all

Nullus autem homo prius fecit pro Deo ; ipse enim Deus in qualibet motione et factione est primus motor et factor.–BRADWARDINUS De Causd Dei, p. 343.

and preserving all.” * And yet another : "All our good works and merits are God's free gifts.” † He calls them “merits ;” and yet in that very place disputes against the condignity of merits, with this very argument (which] we have in hand. And though it be true, that the good actions we do are ours as they are wrought by us, and come from us ; yet “all that is good in them is God ;” I and they have no more goodness in them than what they have of him.

Now then hence it will follow, that men can deserve nothing of God : “Who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him again ?” (Rom. xi. 35.) They that have not first given to God something which is their own, something which they never received from him, cannot oblige him to recompense them. And indeed it is contrary to common sense, that a man should deserve anything of another, by giving him back what he received from him : and so that God should be a debtor to us for those very good works which himself hath wrought in us. Thus some of the Papists themselves argue. “If God," says one, “ gives a soul grace, he gives it freely; and no man will say, that because he hath given him one gift, he owes him another : therefore when God freely gives a soul charity, he is not consequently bound to give it glory." Nay, the others go farther, and argue, that the more good a man doeth, the more he receives from God; (seeing it is of God that he doeth that very good ;) and therefore is so far from obliging God by what he doeth, that he is himself more bound to God. And indeed it is a clear case, that the more a man owes to God, the less capable he is of deserving any thing of God; but the more good a man doeth, the more he owes, because the more he doeth the more he receives ; and consequently the best saints, that do most, seeing they likewise receive most, must needs owe most, and therefore merit least. Indeed, did they do their good works merely in their own strength, and without receiving grace from God, so that they could call their works purely their own, more might be said in defence of merits ; but when no believer in the world ever doeth one jot of good more than what he is enabled by God to do, and which God works by him, it follows that still as his works increase, so his receipts increase ; and as they grow, his merits (to speak so for once) abate, he being in every good work a new debtor to God for the grace whereby he did it.

ARGUMENT V. The good works of believers are imperfect ; and therefore they cannot merit by them.—How can a man merit any reward of the lawgiver by doing that which doth not answer the law, which requires not only good works, but perfectly good ones? He doth not deserve his wages that doth not do his whole work, and do it as he should. Or how can a man deserve a reward by those works which deserve punishment ? Can he deserve the blessing and the curse at the same time, and by the same works? But imperfect good works, though the imperfection of them be not actually imputed, and what is good in them be accepted, yet, as imperfect, and falling short of the demands of the law, do deserve the curse; for, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” (Gal. iii. 10.) And the perfection of good works, as well as the works themselves, is one of those things which are written in the law: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” (Luke x. 27.) Now, that the good works of believers are imperfect, not only all together, but each of them in particular, how clear is it to any that ever really exercise themselves in them ! Where is there the saint in the world but hath some sins mingled with his good works ? Who ever holds on in so constant a course of obedience and holiness but that the good he doeth is interrupted with the mixture of some evil ? “ There is not a just man upon the earth that doeth good and sinneth not,” says Solomon. (Eccles. vii. 20.) And, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” saith St. John. (1 John i. 8.) And David, who was as holy as any Papist upon earth, speaks for himself, and all the world besides, that if God “should mark iniquity,” none “could stand.” (Psalm cxxx. 3.)

Et illud quod sumus, et quod habemus, sive sint actus boni, sive habitus, seu usus, est in nobis ex liberalitate divind, gratis dante et conservante.-DURANDUS in Sent. lib. i. dist. xxvii. quæst. 2. † Omnes operationes nostræ et merita sunt dona Dei.—GREGORIUS ARIMINENSIS in Sent. lib. i distinct. xvii. quæst. i. art. 2.

1 Totum quod est hominis bonum est a Deo.--AQUInAtis Summa Theol. Prima Secundæ, quzest. cxiv. art. 1. $ Si Deus dat animæ charitatem, gratis donat ; et nullus diceret quod ex eo quod Deus donet aliquod munus alicui, fiat ei alterius muneris debitor : ergò ex eo quod gratis dat animæ charitatem, non debetur consequenter etiam gloria.- ARIMINENsis ubi supra. Vide BRAD. WARDINUM et DURANDUM ubi supra.

totum

EXCEPTION. And though our adversaries tell us here, that the intermixture of some venial sins with the good works of the saints doth not hinder their perfection nor meritoriousness, and that their sins are no other : that believers may, as they walk toward heaven, have a little dust fall upon them, but do not wallow in the mire : that they do but turn aside in God's ways, not turn their backs upon them; but halt in them, not forsake them ; but squint a little on the world, not turn their faces wholly toward it :

ANSWER. Yet this will not suffice till they can solidly establish the distinction of mortal sins and venial upon scripture-foundations ; which they never can till they have made an Index expurgatorius upon the Bible itself, and sentenced the holy penmen of it as authores damnatos, demned” them for making those sins mortal which they themselves would so fain have only venial. No, nor after they have done that, till they can produce some one saint who hath lived all his days without ever falling into any one of their mortal sins. Let them ransack their whole college of cardinals, search all their religious houses, examine Peter's chair itself, and they shall not find one that dares (and Protestants will not) pretend to be wholly without, or free from, some or other of those sins which they themselves count mortal.

And if we look to the good works of the saints in particular, we shall find some defectiveness in every one of them. The best proceed but from an imperfect principle,—the new nature ; which, in believers, during their present state, is but in its growth, not come to its full maturity : it shall be made perfect; and therefore is not yet perfect. God promises that believers shall grow in grace: “The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree : he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing." (Psalm xcii. 12–14.) They are commanded to grow : "Grow in grace."

[ocr errors]

con

(2 Peter üi. 18.) It is their endeavour to grow ; they reach out to things before them, and press forward, &c. (Phil. iii. 12–14.) And it is their p.ivilege that they do grow : “Their inner man is renewed day by day.” (2 Cor. iv. 16.) And there is no time of a saint's life in which it is not his duty to grow in grace; the command obligeth them all, as long as they are on this side heaven. But if grace were come to its full perfection, there would be no more need of growing in it, no more obligation so to do. Besides, there is no saint but, as he hath some grace in him, so he hath some remainders of corruption too, sin dwelling in him, as well as Paul had ; (Rom. vii. 17 ;) the law of the members, as well as the law of the mind; (verse 23 ;) flesh, as well as Spirit; (Gal. v. 17 ;) as one principle which draws him off from sin, so another which inclines him to it; as one which puts him upon good, so another which makes him in some degree averse to it; as something which makes him do the work, and in some measure as he should, so something which checks and cools him, and makes him not do it altogether as he should.

Now from hence ariseth a double imperfection in the best works of the saints: one is a want or failing of that intenseness, or those degrees, of goodness, that height and excellency of it, which the law of God requires ; for where the principle itself is not fully perfect, the actings of that principle cannot but be imperfect; the effect can be no better than the cause.

The other is the adherence of some evil to the work, some spot or stain cleaving to it. As sin dwells in the same soul, the same mind, the same will and affections with grace, so it mingles itself with the actings of grace : there being something of mud in the fountain, it dirties the stream; the vessel, having a tang, derives it to the liquor that runs out of it; there being something of venom in the flower, it insinuates itself into, and mingles with, that sweet vapour

that comes from it. So that, upon the whole, every act of a saint is some way or other defective and blemished, and comes short of a legal accurateness ; and therefore is not able to abide a legal trial. That any are at all accepted with God, it is upon the sole account of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter ii. 5.) Him we find offering incense with the prayers of the saints, (Rev. vii. 3,) and his type, the high priest, “bearing the iniquities of the holy things which the children of Israel hallowed in all their holy gifts.” (Exod. xxviii. 38.) And surely, then, if the good works of believers are accepted for Christ's sake, they are not rewarded for their own: their goodness cannot deserve a recompence, when their infirmities need a covering. Their weakness argnes their not answering the law; and if they do not answer it, they cannot deserve to be rewarded according to it.

ARGUMENT VI. Believers need forgiveness of sin ; and therefore cannot by all their good deeds merit life.That they need forgiveness, is plain not only by the former argument, (in that there is no man so full of good works, but he hath some sins mingled with them; and there are no good works in this life so full of goodness, but they have some mixture of evil too,) and by our Saviour's command to pray for pardon, and that daily : “Forgive us our debts ;” (Matt. vi. 12 ;) but likewise by the practice of the saints in scripture, (Psalm xxv. 11; Dan. ix. 19 ; 1 Kings viii. 31, 36,) and the practice of the Papists themselves. How many

« PrécédentContinuer »