Ralph Wardlaw.

Discourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy online

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various relations, to God, to Christ, and to the future
world, and urge them, by what 1 have termed the obliga-
tion of consistency, to a corresponding course of beha-

The necessity of Jwliness most strikingly appears, when
we consider the character of that Being, whose we be-
come through the atoning blood of Jesus. We are the
purciiased people, the property, the servants, the children,
of the HOLY God. " This is the message which we have
heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and
in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we
have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie,
and do not the truth : but if we walk in the light, as he
is in the light, we have fellowship one with another ; and
the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all
sin."t III the following passage, these two descriptions
of obligation — the obligation of consistency, and the obli-
gation of gratitude, are most impressively combined : —
" Wherefore, gird up tiic loins of your minds, be sober,
and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought un-
to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient
children, not fashioning yourselves according to the form-
er lusts in your ignorance ; but as he who hath called you
is holy, so be ye holy, in all manner of conversation : be-
cause it is written. Be ye holy, for I am holy. And if ye
call on the Father, who, without respect of persons, judg-
eth according to every man's work, pass the time of your
sojourning here in fear : forasmuch as ye know, tliat ye
were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and
gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition

* Rom. vi. 11 — 1.3. 1 Cor. vii. 23. 1 Thes. ii. 12. Eph. iv. 1.
V. 8. 1 Thes. V. 8, 6. Col. iii. 1 — 5.
t 1 John i. 5—7.


from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ,
as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot."*

Besides : — we cannot for a single moment imagine the
possibility of God's appointing an atonement, to save sin-
ners from the guilt of sin, and from its punishment, and
not, at the same time, to save them from sin itself. If it
was the design of God, by means of the atonement, to
bring sinners to happiness, it must have been his design
to bring them to holiness. For lie could not make them
happy, without making them holy. If we can form any
distinct idea at all of wliat philosophers mean by the eter-
nal Jltness of things f we surely see such fitness, in the es-
tablishment of an inseparable connexion between holiness
and happiness, and between sin and misery. The designs
of God are all worthy of himself. Two things v/ere lost
by the fall of man ; — the Divine favour^ and the Divine
image. It is the purpose of God, by the gospel, to restore
both. It never was, and never could be his intention, to
bring the guilty back to Wis favour, by means of an atone-
ment, and to leave them destitute of his moral likeness.
No. The restoration of the latter is as immediately the
object of the Divine Being, in the mediation of Jesus
Christ, as the restoration of the former. Let no one,
therefore, imagine, that he can possess an interest in the
Divine favour, through the atonement, while he is not re-
newed after the Divine image. The two go uniformly
together. The latter is, as really as the former, a part of
our salvation. This shows, in the strongest light, the ne-
cessity of holiness. For if we continue unrenewed in the
spirit of our minds, one part of the Divine purpose, in the
atonement of Ijhrist, is not accomplished in us ; and with-
out it, we have not only no good ground to believe that
the other is, but the best reason to believe that it is not,
and that " the wrath of God still abideth on us !"
* 1 Peter i. IS—JO.


The atonement of Christ was intended to express, and
did most afl'ectingly express, the Divine abliorrence of
sin : could it possibly be, at the same time, intended as
the publication of an act of indulgence ? It was designed
to ** magnify the law, and make it honourable :*' could it
be designed, at tlic same time, to ^* make it void V — to
annihilate, or to relax, its obligation ? No, my brethren.
M'^c are *^ not without law to God, but under the law to
Christ." We do not, indeed, trust to the law, as the
ground of our acceptance Avilh God. For, conscious as
we are that A\e have broken tlie law, many parts of it in
practice, and ei^ery part of it in its great general principle
of supreme and perfect love to God ; and convinced that
a broken law condemns, and can never justify us : — we
have gladly betaken ourselves to that '^ grace," which
^^ reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus
Christ our Lord." But while, renouncing all self-depend-
ence, we acknowledge ourselves " accepted in the Belov-
ed,-' it is still our desire to make the law of God the rule
of our duty ; to have the aifections of our hearts, the words
of our lips, and the actions of our lives, increasingly con-
formed to its holy dictates. We are well aware, that
otherwise than by such conformity, we cannot fulfil the
injunction of the text, to *' glorify God in our bodies, and
in our spirits, which are God's." And we know also,
that we can have no satisfactory evidence that we are of
those wiio are " in Christ Jesus/' and " to whom there 19
no condemnation,^' unless we " iralk not after the fiesh,
but after the Spirit.'-*

1 have thus, very imperfectly, set before you some of
those considerations, whicli serve to vindicate, and to es-
tablish, the practical influence of tlie doctrine of salvation
through the atonement of Christ. In preaching this doc-
M'ine, with its collateral truths, we feel no sort of appre-
* Rom. viii. 1.


lieusion with regard to the consequences. We are sure,
that if any sinner embrace the doctrine in good earnest,
he will instantly perceive the reasonableness, and feel the
force, of the obligation stated in the text. He will begin
a new life. He will " walk with God.*' He will live to
him who died for him, and rose again.*' So uniform and
invariable is this consequence, in every instance in which
the gospel is received in the love of it, that no man, ac-
cording to the Scriptures, is to be accounted a believer of
its doctrines, Mhom " the grace of God which bringetli
salvation" hath not " taught to deny all ungodliness and
worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly,
in this present world." The man who '• names the name
of Christ," while he does not " depart from iniquity ;"
who professes to confide in his grace, and in his atoning
sacrifice, while he obeys not his will, but " walks accord-
ing to the course of this world," must be either a self-de-
ceiver or a hypocrite ; either imposing on others by a
false profession, or a melancholy victim of the deceitful-
ness of his own lieart.

When we say that, in preaching the doctrine of ^^justi-
fication by free grace, through the redemption that is in
Christ Jesus," we preach axloctrine that is consistent with
the interests of practical godliness, we occupy ground that
is by far too low ; as if we had done enough when we
have merely shown that the two are compatible. We
must go farther than this. The Scriptures represent the
faith of this doctrine, as the great and only principle from
which true practical godliness can arise; the only soil
in which the genuine fruits of righteousness can grow ; —
the only basi& on Avhich the beautiful superstructure of a
holy life can be effectually reared. The apostle Paul en-
joins on Titus, that he should incessantly inculcate the
doctrines of grace, not merely because in so doing there
was no danger to the interests of morality, but as the onl v


cflBcacious means of maintaining and promoting; the prac-
tice of true morality among the followers of Christ. ^* Af-
ter that the kindness, and love of God our Saviour toward
man appeared ; not by works of righteousness which we
have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the
washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,
which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ
our Saviour ; that, being justified by his grace, we should
be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This
is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou ajfirm
constantly, that* they who have believed in God might be
careful to maintain good icorks.-[

Of what unspeakable consequence is it, my brethren in
Christ, to the honour of your God and Redeemer, to your
own happiness, and to the spiritual and eternal interests
of your fellow sinners, that you study to maintain a con-
sistent course of conduct, " adorning the doctrine of God
your Saviour in all things," — ^* giving no occasion to the
adversary to speak reproachfully !** You are aware of
the foul aspersion that has been thrown on evangelical
doctrine, as if its tendency w as to hold out encouragement
to sinful indulgence. Let your conduct, 1 beseech you,
give this aspersion the lie. Live it down. Show to all

» 'INA — in order that — to the end that they who have believed io
God,&c. — " These things," adds the apostle, — viz. the tilings nhich
he had just enjoined him to affirm constantly — " these things are good
and profitable" — or " these are the things that are good and profita-
ble unto men ;*' — mvr* iTn t« k*>.x xai aj0eX:ux Toii xi$^»tToi(;. They
were good and profitable on accomit of their practical tendency and
effects. And these ^si-oorf and profitable doctrines he immediately con-
trasts with those things on which a particular description of teach-
ers were accustomed to insist, but of which the nature and tendency
were widely different : — *• But avoid foolish questions, and genealo-
gies, and contentions about the law ; for they are 2

Online LibraryRalph WardlawDiscourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy → online text (page 22 of 36)