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is certainly most important ground. As such, if it be not maintainable upon my plan, I shall, upon conviction, be the first to give it up.
In the passage to which you so strongly object, describing it as a mingle mangle of law and Gospel, grace and works, the position laid down is this that fallen man, through the redemption by Jesus Christ, has been placed in a salvable condition ; and that obedience to the moral law upon the Gospel plan, is necessary to render the Christian scheme complete; by qualifying fallen men for (or in the language of the Apostle, making him meet to be partaker of) the salvation that has been purchased for him, by the merits of a crucified Saviour.*
Thus far I still think the ground firm. The redemption of the world by Jesus Christ was general. The benefit of Christ's righteousness, we are informed by the Apostle, was co-extensive with the fatal effects of Adam's fall.t If the redemption of the world by Christ had placed man in a state of absolute salvation, all men must in consequence have been saved.
But even among those to whom the Gospel was first preached, we are told, that many were called, but few chosen. So it is in all ages of the Church. Many are called by the preaching of the Gospel, but few, comparatively speaking, embrace it; consequently few will be saved by it. What, then it may be asked, did the redemption by Christ do for fallen man in general? I answer, it removed a fatal stumbling-block out of his way; it opened a door which had been shut against him, "and at
* Guide, p. 221. + Rom. v. 18.
the same time furnished him with the ability to enter in.
In a word, it restored fallen man to that right to eternal life, which had been forfeited by Adam's breach of the condition on which it was originally suspended; a right derived only from Divine promise, and which, by the mercy of the second covenant in Jesus Christ, was re-established on a different but more secure condition. When we speak, therefore, with reference to man being removed out of the condemned state of fallen nature, into a renewed state of grace under the second covenant; we may be understood to mean, that he has thereby been placed in a state of actual salvatión; but when speaking with an eye to his final condition, we say that redemption by Christ placed him, not in a state of actual, but of possible or conditional salvation; a salvation in some measure dependent upon his conduct under the appointed means of grace. A conclusion which evidently follows from the nature of that judgment which is finally to be passed upon him: for the Son of Man “shall come in the glory of his father, with his angels; then he shall reward every man according to his works.»
Possessed of this leading idea, the reader will be prepared for the explanation of the latter part of the quotation. “ The line between the covenant of works and covenant of grace cannot, I say, be too exactly or too frequently marked out; because, as man is now circumstanced, the one is a covenant of death, the other a covenant of life.”
* Matt xvi. 27.
On this part of my work, I have to thank you, Sir, for the opportunity your comment has afforded me for reconsideration. By reference to the learned Bishop Bull,. I have certainly acquired information more correct than I possessed when I originally handled the point under review; and considering the imperfection of the human intellect, together with the progressive state of all acquired knowledge, I feel more cause for satisfaction than humiliation, in the acknowledgment of my being wiser to-day than I was yesterday. From the substance of the information that has been received, my conclusion is; that the language above made use of, by which two covenants, one of works, another of grace, appeared opposed to each other, as characteristic of the two different dispensations under which man, since his creation, has been placed, is certainly incorrect.
« For it is not true," as my able reviewer (probably on the same authority) has observed, “ that according to the first covenant he who kept the law, would have had a claim of right to life, as the covenanted reward of duty performed; if by life be meant eternal life, and by duty be meant moral virtue and rational piety; eternal life under every dispensation having been a free gift,"+ to be secured only on the performance of a stipulated condition. Could man even in his state of innocence, by his works have acquired a right to eternal life, it must have been on the ground
** Discourse on the State of Man before the Fall.” See Ball's Works, octavo edit. vol. ii, disc. v.
† See Review of the “ Appendix to the Guide” in the "British Critic" for March 1800.
that he was capable of doing what necessarily laid an obligation on the Author and Giver of life to confer it. But both the language of scripture, as well as that of the primitive Church, is in direct contradiction to such an arrogant and blasphemous pretension. “ If thou be righteous, (says Elihu in reproof to Job) what givest thou Him? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art, and thy righteousness may profit the son of man; therefore doth Job
open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge."* " The friendship of God (says Iræneus) grants immortality to them that come unto Him: therefore in the beginning God formed Adam, not because he needed man, but that he might have an object whereon to place his bounty. Our service to God doth not give any thing to him, nor doth God need man's obedience; but He gives life and incorruption and eternal glory to those that follow and obey Him.”+ Man was not created, strictly speaking, immortal, but capable of immortality ; possessed, as Grotius observed, not of a vivisick power; that is, a power actually giving life; but of a vital power, a power so disposed as to preserve life for ever, by the use of appointed means. The tree of life was appointed
# Job xxxv.7, 8, 16.
+ " Amicitiam Dei immortalitatis esse condonatricem iis, qui aggrediuntur eum." Igitur initio non quasi indigens Deus hominis plasmavit Adam, sed ut haberet in quem collocaret sua beneficia, &c. Servitus erga Deum Deo quidem nihil præstat, nec opus est Deo humano obsequio: ipse antem sequentibus et servientibus ei vitam et incorruptelam et gloriam æternam attribuit.” IRÆNEU's, lib. iv. cap. 28.
for that purpose, and so called by way of distinction, because it was either a sacrament and Divine sign, or else a natural means of immortality: either because it was through Divine power invested with a quality to repair the decays of nature, or because the due participation of it was accompanied with those spiritual effects, which were the pledge or earnest of immortality to the party. The reason for Adam's exclusion from Paradise after his fall is thus expressly given by God himself ; " lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever. Immortality, then, according to Divine appointment, was to have been obtained by eating of the tree of life. But as every thing in Paradise, from the different parts of scripture in which allusion is made to it, is concluded to have been emblematical, it should seem that a material tree (as Bishop Hornet has observed in his excellent discourses on this subject) could only confer eternal life as a Divinely instituted symbol or sacrament; as outward visible sign of an inward spiritual grace, given to Adam as a means whereby he was to receive the same, and a pledge to assure him thereof." The use of, and consequent advantage to be derived from this tree, were suspended, on the condition of Adam's abstaining from another tree which stood near it, with many tempting qualities belonging to it, called the “tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Adam's trial,
* Gen. ïïi. 22. † See Bishop Horne's excellent Discourses on “ The Tree of Life, and the Tree of Knowledge." Vol. i. disc. 3 and 4.