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monies that separated them, contributed much, not only to the Uniformity and Beauty of Christianity, but to the Preservation of Harmony and Love, and the Avoidance of Jealousy and Complaint, amongst its Professors : Besides, that indeed many of the Institutions of Mofes were calculated for the Use only of one small Nation, as that Nation to which he prescribed them, was ; and neither could possibly be observed by all Mankind, nor can be observed by the Jews in their present Dispersion.
Yet, weighty as these Considerations were, many continued unmoved by them; and insisted, that all Men must keep the Jewish Law; for that, without it, Faith in Christ would not save them. And this is the Doctrine, which St. Paul in his Epistles so zealously confutes, as dishonourable to, and inconsistent with, the Gospel. He there shews, that Jews, as well as Gentiles, are Sinners; and, far from meriting future Happiness by their good Deeds, can escape future Punishment for their bad ones only through God's Mercy, which Christ hath procured for them, and revealed to them that the Law of Mofes requires perfect Obedience; and, after Disobedience, makes no Provision for Pardon, but through him, whom
its Sacrifices presignify : that therefore, if they sought for Justification by their legal Works, as they appeared to do, they could not be justified at all ; and, if they fought it by the Grace of Christ, that singly would be sufficient: and it was doing it a gross Injury, to imagine, that when the Substance was come, the Affistance of the Shadow was requisite, to make it effectual : that Faith had not only saved the earlier Patriarchs, but even been imputed to Abraham, the Father of the Jews themselves, for Righteousness, and a Promise had been made him, that in his Seed all Nations should be blessed, before the very first Part of the Law, Circumcision, was appointed ; and Hundreds of Years before the rest of it had a Being : and therefore the same Faith, only rendered more explicit, might well have the same Effect, after the Law was taken away : which now only obscured the Building, it had helped to raise.
These Things make the principal Subject of some of his Epistles, particularly that to the Romans, and this to the Galatians ; throughout the rest he frequently alludes to them : and bearing them in Mind, is carrying along with
s Rom. iv. 3, 22, 23.
us the true Key to understand his Writings ;
Rom. iii. 28. I Gal. V. I,
James ii. 24.
k Rom. vi. 14.
Paul is very express, that though, with Respect to the Mofaic Rites, Chriftians are without Law, yet are they not without Law in Regard to God, but under the Law to, Chrift ", and, by his Command, under that of Men alfo. ... This then is the Doctrine of the New Testa, ment; that according to the Tenor of the Gospel, neither the Obfervance of the Mosaic Law will justify Men, nor the Non-observance of it condemn them; but that a thorough Change of Heart and Life from Evil to Good, effected by the Power of God's almighty Grace, is the one Thing needful: For in Christ Jesus, neither Circumcifion availeth any Tbing, nor Uncircumcifion : but a new Creature. Now we in the present Age are fo intirely fatisfied about the former of thefe Points, that perhaps wę think it loft Time to hear any Thing faid upon it; though a Way is thus opened, both to understand the Sense, and vindicate the Pertinence, of a considerable Part of the New Testament: and likewise to convince reasonabłę Persons, that other difficult Passages of holy Writ, if we knew the Circumstances, to which they refer, might appear : equally plain and unexceptionable. But then we are strange
1 Cor. ix. 21.
ly apt, if not to disbelieve, yet to misunderstand the latter Part of the Apostle's Affertion in the Text: and sometimes, it may be, to think more implied in it, but often less, than really is. And, by such Mistakes, we come to rest our Salvation on Things, that will avail us little more, than the Observances of the Jews would them. Thus in almost the same Manner, that they overvalued that Ceremony, which was the Entrance into their Covenant, we over-value our Baptism, which is the Entrance into ours; and think well of our spiritual State, merely because a solemn Promise was made in our Names, of which we have lived in the Breach almost ever since. Or if we can plead something more ; perhaps it is a formal Attendance on Prayers and Sermons and Sacraments, without Attention and without Meaning : or it is the Orthodoxy of a Belief, that hath no Influence on our Practice; or the Fervency of a Zeal without Knowledge, or without Charity: it is our Fits of Repentance, and no Amendment: our transitory Warmth of good Affections and fruitless Purposes : our partial Obedience to some precepts of God's Law, with a grofs Neglect of others : :or our imagined Obedience to all,