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SECT. involved in undistinguished ruin, and conIv. figned to everlasting destruction.
But, in order to prevent the imputation of merely answering one affertion with another, let us proceed to a more close examination of this popular doctrine.
The fyftem in question maintains, that, provided only we do our best, we shall infal libly be faved. The converse of it, therefore, will be, that provided we do not our beft, we shall not be faved.
The premises being thus laid down, let me now afk, Will any man, in his fober fenses, be content to rifque his all, upon his having conftantly done his best, and upon his having univerfally acted up to the power which was given him?-Let him look into his past life, and be his own judge. Has he invariably performed every action in fo excellent a manner, that he cannot conceive it poffible, that, with his prefent limited faculties, he could have performed it better? Has he never been deaf to the call of duty? Has he never neglected a fingle opportunity of doing good?
good? Or, fuppofing for a moment that CHAP. he has invariably performed every duty which offered itself to his notice, has he been diligent in making opportunities of being actively useful? Has he never omitted one good deed, which he is conscious that he might have done? If he has failed in a fingle practicable point during his whole life, he has certainly not done the best he could, and therefore by his own principles he ftands condemned.
But this is not all; these are only active duties. The grand business of self-regimen remains yet to be confidered. Has he then invariably abstained from every evil action, which it was possible that he might have abstained from? Has he never yielded to any temptation, which reafon tells him might have been conquered? A fingle tranfgreffion, be it ever fo minute, which he could have avoided, is alone fufficient to annul his claim to that line of conduct, which was the best that he was able to pursue. To fum up the whole; has he in thought, word, and deed, without a fingle exception, really, heartily, and confcientiously done the very best he could? Absolute perfection is now out of the question; the
SECT. point is fimply this; not whether he has IV. lived a life of finlefs obedience, but whether he has done the best he could. Unless he can answer in the affirmative, which probably no man will venture to do, he moft undoubtedly is condemned by his own fyftem. "He that does his best, will be faved; "He that does not his beft, will not be faved." It is plain, therefore, that upon these principles, a fingle violation of poffible rectitude, a fingle omiffion of possible duty, is sufficient to plunge the foul into everlasting perdition. Is the most strenuous afferter of this doctrine willing to be tried by his own rule? No; he fhrinks with terror from the conclufion, which must be drawn from fuch a fyftem.
This favourite dogma being found untenable, the fecond part of the original propofition shall next be taken into confideration.
When Chrift came into the world, be gave us a law more eafy to obey than that of Mofes; for God then relaxed from his ancient ftrictness, and propofed certain terms of falvation fo moderate, that they may be observed without any very great difficulty.
Behold here the very effence of Anti- CHAP. nomianifm! Joyful news of falvation is I. preached to the fyftematically wicked ; and the finner is encouraged to go on in his evil ways, because God, having abated of his ftrictnefs, will now be found too merciful to condemn him!
This heterodox notion, like most other corruptions of Christianity, is built only upon the fandy bafis of hardy affertion. But let it ever be remembered, that to affert is one thing, and to prove is another. Than the first nothing more eafy; than the fecond nothing frequently more difficult. Is there any mention made in the Gospel of a moral law more eafy to obey than the Law of Mofes? Is there even a hint given, that God has relaxed from his pristine severity? Or can a single syllable be found, which pronounces, that a man will infallibly be faved, provided he does the best in his power?
The doctrine of our Lord is the very reverfe. "Think not that I am come to de
ftroy the Law or the Prophets: I am "not come to deftroy, but to fulfil.
verily I fay unto you, Till heaven and "earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in "no wife pafs from the Law, till all be "fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break "one of thefe leaft commandments, and fhall "teach men fo, he fhall be called the leaft in "the kingdom of heaven." Christ is here manifeftly speaking of the two constituent parts of the Law; the ceremonial, and the moral. The first he accomplished in his own person, being the end of the whole scheme of type and prophecy: the second he folemnly confirms, and, instead of lowering its claims, he takes care effectually to preclude all poffibility of evasion. "Except
your righteousness fhall exceed the right"eoufnefs of the Scribes and Pharifees, ye "shall in no case enter into the kingdom " of heaven."
The fame doctrine is fteadily maintained by his Apostle St. James; "Whosoever "fhall keep the whole Law, and yet of"fend in one point, he is guilty of all. "For he, that faid, Do not commit adul
tery, faid alfo, Do not kill. Now, if
Matt. v. 17.
Matt. v. 20.