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drawn from the influence which Christianity exerts over the heart and life; in connexion with the great object of the Christian's hope, as it is to be realized at the second appearing of Jesus Christ. He distinctly declares that the "grace" which "bringeth salvation,” instead of relaxing the obligations of righteousness, confirms them; and supplies motives to a holy life of the most impressive kind: in other words, that we are specially bound to a life of obedience by the consideration that we are hereafter to meet in glory that Saviour who died for the very purpose of "redeeming us from all iniquity," and rendering us "zealous of good works."
The passage which I have read from Jude occurs in connexion with an admonition to the Christians whom he was addressing, to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." As a reason for this admonition he proceeds to say, "There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation; ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness;" or perverting the most holy truths of the gospel to justify themselves in the most abominable iniquity.
The former part of our text presents to our view Practical Christianity: the latter part of it, that perversion of the gospel that is commonly called Antinomianism. The design of the discourse then, is to contrast Practical Christianity with Antinomianism.
The term Antinomianism, strictly speaking, denotes something contrary to the law. A distinct sect bearing the name of Antinomians sprang up on the Continent of Europe a little before the middle of the sixteenth century; but it was in England, and during the protectorate of Cromwell, that they acquired their greatest influence, and were most bold in inculcating and defending
their principles of libertinism. The leading doctrines which they maintained were that, in virtue of the obedience and sufferings of Christ, the law is abrogated as a rule of action; that no amount of sin which they could commit, could, in any degree, affect their future well-being; and that it is impossible that the elect should do any thing that is displeasing to God. I am not aware that the Antinomians have any existence at this day as a distinct sect; and yet there is reason to believe they are scattered here and there through almost every sect. It is only within a few years that they were so numerous and formidable in Great Britain, that the celebrated Andrew Fuller felt himself called upon to vindicate the gosTM pel against their wretched and licentious perversions of it; and he produced an argument on that occasion which ought to have set them all to looking out for a place in the caves and dens of the earth. I am informed, upon good authority, that it is no uncommon thing, at this day, to meet with this heresy in its most revolting form, in certain parts of our own country: and I ought to add that the sect which have lately sprung up among us under the name of Perfectionists, are understood to embrace some of the most offensive of the Antinomian peculiarities. These facts, if there were nothing beyond them, would exempt me, I trust, from a liability to the charge of beating the air, in presenting this subject before you as a topick for publick instruction.
But I acknowledge that I should regard the necessity for discussing this subject as much less than it now is, if the prevalence of Antinomian tendencies did not greatly exceed the direct avowal of Antinomian principles.The truth is that, as Antinomians are to be found scattered through almost every sect, so Antinomianism combines itself as a leaven of evil with almost every system.
There are good men who, with an honest zeal for God's ' truth, suffer unguarded expressions sometimes to escape them, which would seem to imply that the liberty of the gospel includes in it a freedom from the obligations of personal holiness. And so too there are bad men who eulogize the gospel, while they continue in sin; and who show clearly enough, without expressing it in words, that they take refuge against the accusations of conscience in the reflection that they belong to the number of the elect, to whom, in virtue of the sacrifice of Christ, there remaineth no condemnation. Good men may become, to some extent, Antinomians in theory, while yet they love God's law; but it is for bad men to reduce the theory to practice, or to exhibit the practice while they professedly discard the theory. In the present discourse I shall consider Antinomianism, not in its more obscure and impalpable forms, as connected with other systems, but as itself constituting a distinct system;-just what its professed advocates have represented it: and in doing so, I shall hope indirectly to aim a blow at all the diversified tendencies to this form of errour.
By Practical Christianity I mean that system which claims dominion over the whole man, and supplies the elements of a new character; which "teaches us that, denying ungodliness and every worldly lust, we should live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world;" and that Christ "gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works." In short, it is Evangelical Christianity contemplated in its practical bearings.
We will contrast these two systems as they stand related to THE DISPENSATION OF GRACE :—
I. TO THE MEANS EMPLOYED:
II. TO THE ENDS ACCOMPLISHED.
I. TO THE MEANS EMPLOYED.
The means employed in the economy of grace may be fairly included in the agency of the Saviour, and the agency of the sinner; in other words, in the mediatorial work of Christ, and in a compliance with the terms on which its blessings are offered.
What then are the bearings of these two systems on the mediation of Christ?
1. Antinomianism contracts its influence: Practical Christianity gives it an immeasurable range.
What, upon the principles of Antinomianism, does the mediation of Christ accomplish? Does it guard the honour of the divine law? Does it harmonize the attributes of the divine character? Does it render God more glorious in the view of the intelligent creation ?— Does it minister to the happiness of other worlds, by opening up to them a system of moral beauty and grandeur, upon which they may expatiate with ever fresh delight and ever growing advantage? No, it does nothing of all this; it concerns itself only with man; and even in respect to him the work which it proposes to accomplish is but a partial work. Its grand design is to bring to the heart a sense of security;-to make the sinner feel that he is safe from the threatnings of God's law; and where this conviction is once established,-no matter by what means, the end for which Christ lived and died on earth, and now reigns in Heaven, is regarded as accomplished. In the progress of the discourse, I shall have occasion to show that the provision which the Antinomian finds in the mediation of Christ for the sinner's justification is not only at war with God's truth, but
subversive of the whole evangelical economy; but, for the present, I will admit, if you please, notwithstanding the contradiction which the supposition must involve, that the Antinomian view of redemption provides for the sinner's being completely justified;—yet what remedial provision, I ask, does it contemplate, for the great moral disease of human nature? Man is not only obnoxious, as an offender, to the penalty of the divine law, but he has corrupted his way before God, and is the subject of a deep and awful depravity. Inquire of the Antinomian how this latter exigency is to be met,-how pollution is to be removed, and purity to come in its place;—and if he attempts to answer you, he will probably say that sin can do him no harm; or perhaps he may talk of an imputed sanctification, and claim that Christians are one with Christ in such a sense that they are perfectly holy in him, however profligate and vile they may be in themselves. The truth is that the system really makes no provision for sanctification; and if evidence of this were wanting from other sources, it is supplied by the lives of most of those who have practically and thoroughly embraced it.
Now contemplate the mediation of Christ in the light of Practical Christianity, and see how much more extensive is the field on which its influence operates. In the first place, it contemplates all the great exigencies of human nature: while it includes the necessary provision for turning away the wrath of God, it also looks to the renovation of the heart: while it secures a title to a holy Heaven, it secures also the qualifications requisite for enjoying it. In short, it meets man just as he is, and transforms him into what he ought to be; elevating alike his character and his destiny. But then it reaches much farther;—it maintains the honour of God's law,