Note 9. It may be urged that the obligation from which the duty to believe springs, is not created by a knowledge of the Gospel, but springs from the natural and moral accountability of men, on whom it is incumbent, as rational creatures, to believe the message of Divine mercy, and so act as to ensure their personal participation in its provisions of grace. Men ought to believe God; therefore they ought to believe the Gospel of God, and accept the grace therein tendered to sinners.

If this is our brethren’s view, to state it is surely to refute it. The range of all natural duty is unquestionably defined by the Law, or it would be an incomplete enforcement of the claims of God on man, and insufficient for the purpose of the Divine Judge at the great final assize. If there were one natural duty which it did not enjoin, or one sin which it did not forbid, it might not suffice for the equitable condemnation of the guilty at last.

The Faith that brings a lost sinner to Christ, therefore, if a duty incumbent upon him as a natural man, must be com­ manded by the moral Law. Our brethren must then admit that (if their Article is read in this light) the Law commands all men to whom the Gospel is made known, to believe its testimony, and come to Christ to be saved.

But “the Law is not of Faith, (Gal. 3:12;) “is not a matter of Faith; nor does it relate to it, or require it. It deals in other matters, and pertains to another system.” Albert Barnes.

Yet, if our brethren take this ground, Godby the Law com­mands spiritually dead creatures to become living Christians; natural men to become spiritual men; and those who are under the curse to grasp at the highest favours Heaven itself can bestow.

Yet again, duties which arise from our natural relation to God. and which are commanded by the Law, are “works.” Spiritual Faith, if incumbent on men, as men, is a command of the Law. (or a legal duty) and is, therefore, a “work.” The salvation of God (which the Gospel asserts to be of grace) can only be obtained by legal obedience. Duty-faith thus really means that sinners must inaugurate their salvation by an act of creature merit, or be for ever lost. A legal work is the con­dition of grace.

If these things seem absurd, the absurdity originated with the framers of the Article.


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