Imágenes de páginas

be true, as every man may find it to be in his own case, that even the best of his services, being mingled with sin, need forgiveness and cannot challenge reward, works can no more assist us in obtaining justification, than they can do the business of themselves. No law of God, or of man, will accept of any thing but perfect obedience, or admit a compromise between obedience and rebellion. He who allows his works to be defective, and yet affirms that they contribute to his justification, therefore affirms that he is partly justified by those actions which have the nature of sin, or, in other words, that he is partly justified by his sins.--Besides, the word of God expressly declares, that by the deeds of the laro no flesh shall be justified in the sight of God, and, for this reason, because by the law is the knowledge of sin. Justification by works, and justification by faith, are represented as doctrines directly opposite, the tendency of the one being to establish the doctrine of grace, and to exclude boasting: the tendency of the other, to introduce boasting and to establish a claim of debt. Doctrines so heterogeneous will not admit of being united. They necessarily tend to the destruction of each other. grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace : otherwise work is no more work."-Rom. xi. 6.

Some persons contend for sacramental justification. On this subject we shall only give the sentiments of Bishop Burnet, with which we most cordially agree. “ It is a tenet in the Church of Rome, that the use of the sacraments, if men do not put a bar to them, and if they have only imperfect acts of sorrow accompanying them, does so far complete those weak acts, as to justify

6 If by us. This we do uiterly deny, as a doctrine that tends to enervate all religion; and to make the sacraments that were appointed to be the solemn acts of religion, for quickening and exciting our piety, and for conveying grace to us, upon our coming devoutly to them, become means to flatten and deaden us; as if they were of the nature of charms, which, if they could be come at, though with ever so slight a preparation, would make up all defects. The doctrine of sacramental justification, is justly to be reckoned among the most mischievous of all those practical errors that are in the Church of Rome. Since, therefore, this is no where mentioned in all those large discourses that are in the New Testament, concerning justification, we have just reason to reject it. Since also the natural consequence of this doctrine, is, to make men rest contented in low imperfect acts, when they can be so easily made up by a sacrament, we have just reason to detest it, as one of the depths of Satan; the tendency of it being, to make those ordinances of the Gospel which were given to us as means to raise and heighten our faith and repentance, become engines to encourage sloth and impenitence."*

Some, by confounding justification and sanctification, place the ground of our acceptance, upon our holiness and inherent goodness. That the blessings of justification and sanctification are inseparable, that no man is justi. fied who is not also sanctified, and, that no man is sanctified, who is not also pardoned and restored to the favour of God, are propositions so clearly laid down in scripture, that the man must either be prejudiced, or but superficially acquainted with the book of

• Exposition of the Thirty Nine Articles. Art. 11.

God, who does not recognise them, in almost all the epistolary writings of the Apostles. Of both justification and sanctification, a lively faith is the means, and the bond of connexion. But though always united, there is a distinction between them, which rises out of the condition in which the Gospel universally finds men. It finds them in a state of guilt and condemnation, liable to the wrath of God, and to eternal misery. It also finds them in a state of moral degradation and impurity, the slaves of divers lusts, and enemies to God, by wicked works. The sanctification of man restores him to the image of God, to the love and to the practice of holiness. But, were it even perfect, it could not atone for his former sins, nor blot out from the Divine records, the guilt of his former crimes and rebellion. Suppose a man to have committed a murder, twenty or thirty years ago ; suppose also, that through the whole subsequent course of his life, he had acted the part of a good citizen ; will his good conduct during the last twenty or thirty years, be a sufficient plea, when he is arraigned at the bar of his country, for the horrid act of murder? No, he is just as liable to the stroke of justice, as if he had been apprehended, while his hands were yet reeking with the blood of the innocent victim. Now, this is precisely the state in which every man stands with respect to the laws of his Maker ; with this difference, indeed, that since he has thrown away the weapons of rebellion, his obedience has been extremely imperfect, and needs daily forgiveness. To his being pardoned and received into favour, in a manner consistent with the honour of God's moral government, it is necessary that some satisfaction, worthy of the Maker's acceptance, and fitted to support the awful sanctions of His laws, should be given to the clainis of justice. Such a satisfaction is the atonement of Christ, and that atonement being received by faith, constitutes the justifying righteousness of the man who is sanctified. Even in the act of justification, God considers the man whom he justifies as a sinner, and justifies the ungodly who believeth in Jesus.-Rom. iv. 5. Could we suppose, on the other hand, a man to be forgiven, and to be received into the favour of God, and no provision to be made for his sanctification, he must immediately fall back into his former condemnation ; for none but the pure in heart can either see God, be interested in his favour, or hope for his glory. So utterly incapable is sanctification of supplying the place of justification, or justification of doing the work of sanctification, that it is only by uniting their influence, that they make the man of God perfect. The one supplying him with a perfect righteousness imputed, and the other with a progressive principle of holiness inherent. The one conferring on him a title to the kingdom of God, the other giving him a meetness for that inheritance. The confounding of these two blessings, is one of the worst errors of popery, and it must be attended with pernicious consequences to the interests of religion, in every church in which such confusion prevails.

The judicious Hooker, with his usual accuracy, thus states this important subject,—“ There is a glorifying righteousness of men in the world to come; as there is a justifying and sanctifying righteousness here. The righteousness wherewith we shall be clothed in the world to come, is both perfect and inherent. That whereby here we are justified, is perfect, but not inherent. That whereby we are sanctified is inherent, but not perfect.” Again, “If God should yield unto us, not as unto Abra

ham, if fifty, forty, thirty, twenty, yea, or if ten good persons could be found in a city, for their sakes the city should not be destroyed : but, and if he should make us an offer thus large, search all the generations of men, sithence the fall of our father Adam, find one man, that hath done one action, which hath past from him pure, without any stain, or blemish at all; and for that one man's only action, neither man nor angel shall feel the torments which are prepared for both. Do you think that this ransom, to deliver men and angels, could be found to be among the sons of men ? The best things which we do, have somewhat in them to be pardoned. How then can we do any thing meritorious, or worthy to be rewarded ? Indeed, God doth liberally promise whatsoever appertaineth to a blessed life, to as many as sincerely keep his law, though they be not exactly able to keep it. Wherefore we acknowledge a dutiful necessity of doing well, but the meritorious dignity of doing well we utterly renounce. We see how far we are from the perfect righteousness of the law; the little fruit which we have in holiness, is, God knoweth, corrupt and unsound; we put no confidence at all in it, we challenge nothing in the world for it, we dare not call God to reckoning, as if we had him in our debt-books; our continual suit to him is, and must be, to bear with our infirmities, and pardon our sins."'*

The doctrine of the Scripture is, that we are justified in the sight of God by faith only, and through grace.

The doctrine of the Atonement sets forth Christ, as a propitiation, through faith in his blood, for the remission of sins,

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »