Page images

5. All the promises that were made to the church of God under the Old Testament, of the great enlargement of the church, and advancement of her glory, in the days of the gos, pel, after the coming of the Messiah ; the increase of her light, liberty, holiness, joy, triumph over her enemies, &c. of which so great a part of the Old Testament consists; which are repeated so often, are so variously exhibited, so frequently introduced with great pomp and solemnity, and are so abundantly sealed with typical and symbolical representations : I say, all these promises imply, that the Messiah should per, fect the work of redemption ; and this implies, that he should persevere in the work, which the Father had appointed him, being in all things conformed to his Will. These promises were often confirmed by an oath. (See Isa. liv. 9, with the context; chap. Ixii. 8.) And it is represented as utterly impossible that these promises should fail. (Isa. xlix. 15, with the context; chap. liv. 10, with the context; chap. li. 4......8; chap. xl. 8, with the context.) And therefore it was impossible that the Messiah should fail, or commit sin.

6. It was impossible that the Messiah should fail of persevering in integrity and holiness, as the first Adam did, because this would have been inconsistent with the promises, which God made to the blessed Virgin, his mother, and to her husband ; implying, that He should save his people from their sins, that God would give him the throne of his Father David, that He should reign over the house of Jacob forever; and that of his kingdom there should be no end. These promises were sure, and it was impossible they should fail... And therefore the Virgin Mary, in trusting fully to them, acted reasonably, having an immoveable foundation of her faith ; as Elisabeth observes, Luke i. 45. “ And blessed is she that believeth; for there shall be a performance of those things, which were told her from the Lord.”

7. That it should have been possible that Christ should sin, and so fail in the work of our redemption, does not con: sist with the eternal purpose and decree of God, revealed in the scriptures, that He would provide salvation for fallen man in and by Jesus Christ, and that salvation should be offered to

sitīners through the preaching of the gospel. Such an absolute decree as this, Arminians do not deny..... Thus much at least (out of all controversy) is implied in such Scriptures, as 1 Cor. ii. 7. Eph. i. 4,5, and chap. iii. 9, 10, 11. 1 Pet. i. 19, 20. Such an absolute decree as this, Arminians allow to be signified in these texts. And the Arminians, election of nations and societies, and general election of the Christian Church, and conditional election of particular persons, imply this. God could not decree before the foundation of the world, to save all that should believe in, and obey Christ, unless he had absolutely decreed, that salvation should be provided, and effectually wrought out by Christ. And since (as the Arminians themselves strenuously maintain) a decree of God infers necessity; hence it became necessary, that Christ should persevere, and actually work out salvation for us, and that he should not fail by the commission of sin.

8. That it should have been possible for Christ's holi- * ness to fail, is not consistent with what God promised to his Son, before all ages. For, that salvation should be offered to men through Christ, and bestowed on all his faithful followers, is what is at least implied in that certain and infallible promise spoken of by the apostle, Tit. i. 2.“ In hope of eternal life; which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." This does not seem to be controverted by Arminians. *

9. That it should be possible for Christ to fail of doing his Father's Will, is inconsitent with the promise made to the Father by the Son, by the Logos that was with the Father from the beginning, before he took the human nature : As. may be seen in Psal. xl. 6, 7, 8, (compared with the Apostle's interpretation, Heb. x. 5.....9.) “ Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire: Mine ears hast thou opened, (or bored ;) burnt offering and sin offering Thou hast not required. Then said I, Lo, I come : In the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy Will, O my God, and thy law is within my heart." Where is a manifest allusion to the covenant, which the willing servant, who loved his mas

* See Dr. Whitby on the five Points, p. 48, 49, 50.

ter's service, made with his masters to be his servant forevet'; on the day wherein he had his ear bored ; which covenant was probably inserted in the public records, called the Vola ume of the Book, by the judges, who were called to take cogs nizance of the transaction ; Exod. xxi. If the Logos, who was with the Father, before the world, and who made the world, thus engaged in covenant to do the Will of the Father in the human nature, and the promise was as it were recorda ed, that it might be made sure, doubtless it was impossible that it should fail ; and so it was impossible that Christ should fail of doing the Will of the Father in the human nature.

10. If it was possible for Christ to have failed of doing the Will of his Father, and so to have failed of effectually working out redemption for sinners, then the salvation of all the saints, who were saved from the beginning of the world, to the death of Christ, was not built on a firm foundation. The Messiah, and the redemption which he was to work out by his obedience unto death, was the foundation of the salvation of all the posterity of fallen man, that ever were saved. Therefore, if when the Old Testament saints had the pardon of their sins, and the favor of God promised them, and salvation bea stowed upon them, still it was possible that the Messiah, when he came, might commit sin, then all this was on a foundation that was not firm and stable, but liable to fail; something which it was possible might never be. God did as it were trust to what his Son had engaged and promised to do in future time; and depended so much uponit, that He proceeded actually to save men on the account of it, as though it had been already done. But this trust and dependence of God, on the supposition of Christ's being liable to fail of doing his Will, was leaning on a staff that was weak, and might possibly break..... The saints of old trusted in the promises of a future redemption to be wrought out and completed by the Messiah, and built their comfort upon it : Abraham saw Christ's day and rejoiced ; and he and the other Patriarchs died in the faith of the promise of it.... (Heb. xi. 13.) But on this supposition, their faith and their comfort, and their salvation, was built on a moveable, fallible foundation ; Christ was not to them a tried stone, a sure found

ation : As in Isa. xxviii. 16, David entirely rested on the covenant of God with him, concerning the future glorious dominion and salvation of the Messiah, of his seed ; and says it was all his salvation, and all his desire : And comforts himself that this covenant was an “ everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure," 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. But if Christ's virtue might fail, he was mistaken : His great comfort was not built so sure as he thought it was, being founded entirely on the determinations of the Free Will of Christ's human Soul; which was subject to no necessity, and might be determined either one way or the other. Also the dependence of those, who looked for redemption in Jerusalem, and waited for the consolation of Israel, (Luke.ii. 25, and 38) and the confidence of the disciples of Jesus, who forsook all and followed Him, that they might enjoy the benefits of his future kingdom, were built on a sandy foundation.

11. The man Christ Jesus, before he had finished his course of obedience, and while in the midst of temptations. and trials, was abundant in positively predicting his own future glory in his kingdom, and the enlargement of his church, the salvation of the Gentiles through him, &c. and in promises of blessings he would bestow on his true disciples in his future kingdom; on which promises he required the full dependence of his disciples, (John xiv.) But the disciples would have had no ground for such dependence, if Christ had been liable to fail in his work: And Christ Himself would have been guilty of presumption, in so abounding in peremp. tory promises of great things, which depended on a mere contingence, viz. the determinations of his Free Will, con. sisting in a freedom ad utrumque, to either sin or holiness standing in indifference, and incident, in thousands of future instances, to go either one way or the other.

Thus it is evident, that it was impossible that the Acts of the Will of the human soul of Christ should be otherwise than holy, and conformed to the Will of the Father ; or, in other words, they were necessarily so conformed.

I have been the longer in the proof of this matter, it being a thing denied by some of the greatest Arminians, by Episco

Vol. V. ' X

pius in particular ; and because I look upon it as a point clearly and absolutely determining the controversy between Calvinists and Arminians, concerning the necessity of such a freedom of Will as is insisted on by the latter, in order to moral agency, virtue, command or prohibition, promise or threatening, reward or punishment, praise or dispraise, merit or demerit. I now therefore proceed,

II. To consider whether Christ, in his holy behavior on earth, was not thus a moral agent, subject to commands, promises, &c.

Dr. Whitby very often speaks of what he calls a freedom ad utrumlibet, without necessity, as requisite to law and commands ; and speaks of necessity as entirely inconsistent with injunctions and prohibitions. But yet we read of Christ's being the subject of the commands of his Father, Job x. 18, and xv. 10. And Christ tells us, that every thing he said, or did, was in compliance with commandments he had received of the Father; John xii. 49, 50, and xiv. 31. And we often read of Christ's obedience to his Father's commands, Rom. v. 19. Phil. ii. 8. Heb. v. 8.

The forementioned writer represents promises offered as motives to persons to do their duty, or a being moved and induced by promises, as utterly inconsistent with a state wherein persons have not a liberty ad utrumlibet but are necessarily determined to one. (See particularly, p. 298, 311.) But the thing which this writer asserts, is demonstrably false, if the Christian religion be true. If there be any truth in Christianity or the holy Scriptures, the man Christ Jesus had his Will infallibly, unalterably and unfrustrably determined to good, and that alone ; but yet he had promises of glorious rewards made to Him, on condition of his persevering in, and perfecting the work which God had appointed Him ; Isa. liii. 10, 11, 12, Psal. ii. and cx. Isa. xlix. 7, 8, 9. In Luke xxii. 28, 29, Christ says to his disciples, “ Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations ; and I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me." The word most properly signifies to appoint by covenant or

« PreviousContinue »