« AnteriorContinuar »
as giving himself for us an offering and a sacrifice, of a sweet smelling savour; as washing us from our sins, in his own blood. We are said to be justified by faith, and to have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.Rom. r. 1. To be accepted in the Beloved.--Epb. i. 6. To “be made the righteousness of God in him.”— 2 Cor. v. 21. Lest any person should suppose, that faith justifies as the aggregate of all religious tempers and dispositions, which would bring us back again to justification by works, it is said to be of faith that it might be by grace.—Rom. iv. 16. “The very notion of grace, necessarily excludes all intermixture of works. For what is grace, but a free, unbought, unmerited, exercise of mercy ? Such is the act of a sinner's justification, so far as relates to himself. It springs from the exceeding riches of God's grace. It has no respect to meritorious services, on the one hand ; nor is it influenced by mercenary views on the other. It is not bestowed as a reward for any past performances, nor does it look for a compensation from future obedience. God justifies the sinner freely: imputes to him righteousness without works ; which is therefore styled the gift of righteousness; the free gift of many offences unto justification."*
This manner of justification is intended to vindicate the honour of God's moral government; to illustrate the infinite purity of the Divine nature, and of the Divine law; to exhibit the exceeding sinfulness of sin, to humble sinners; to exhibit God as just, as well as merciful; and to show the exceeding riches of God's grace, in his kindness to us, through Jesus Christ. Again, lest it should be supposed
• Cooper's Sermons, Vol. 1, Serm. 2d.
that justification by faith, only means that a man who professes to receive the Gospel, is, upon that profession, forgiven his past offences, and left to make out his own title to heaven, in the best manner he can, by his own works; believers are said to be the sons of God, even now; and if sons, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.—Rom. viii. 17. They are said to have their lives hid with Christ, in God, so that when he shall appear, they also shall appear with him in glory.—Col. iii. 4. They are said to have the earnest, the first fruits of the inheritance, within themselves.-Eph. i. 14. They are said to receive from the Saviour, water, springing up into everlasting life.-John, iv. 14.
To the numerous arguments, and the frequently-repeated testimony of the Apostle Paul, to prove that justification is not by works, but through faith, and that all the Patriarchs, Prophets, and pious men, who lived before the Gospel dispensation, were accepted of God, in this manner; it is common to object the declaration of the Apostle James, that a man is justified by works, as well as by faith. But, whoever carefully examines the declarations of these two Apostles, will find, that the justifications of which they speak, are very different things. St. Paul's justificatiou is that by which a man is accepted of God, his sins pardoned, and he interested in the lovingkindness of his heavenly Father. The justification for which St. James contends, is not that by which a man is pardoned and accepted in the sight of God, for to that he makes not the smallest reference, but the justification of the sincerity of a believer's faith, by his works. - Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith, by my works.”—James, ii. 18. The charge of Antinomianism, which has often been brought against the doctrine of justification, by faith only, cannot be better repelled, than in the words of Hooker. “ It is a childish cavil, wherewith in the matter of justification, our adversaries do so greatly please themselves, exclaiming that we tread all Christian virtues under our feet, and require nothing in Christians but faith, because we teach that faith alone justifieth; whereas, by this speech we never meant to exclude either hope or charity from being always joined as inseparable mates with faith, in the man that is justified; or works from being added, as necessary duties required, at the hands of every justified man. But to show that faith is the only hand that putteth on Christ, unto justification; and Christ, the only garment, which, being so put on, covereth the shame of our defiled natures, hideth the imperfection of our works, preserveth us blameless in the sight of God, before whom, otherwise, the weakness of our faith were cause sufficient to make us culpable, yea, to shut us from the kingdom of heaven, where nothing that is not absolute can enter."*
We shall conclude this article with a quotation from an excellent writer. “Would you then disprove revelation, and discard the religion of Christ ? For once you must prove mankind to be in a state of innocence and purity, and then it will be senseless to talk of redemption ; for what should innocence be redeemed from? You must show that nature is not vitiated, or corrupted; that the flesh does not lust against the mind, but that there is a mutual agreement, and the flesh obeys the mind, and the mind obeys God; then you may at once reject the doc
* Discourse of Justification.
trine of repentance, of free grace, of justification, through the blood of Christ. But whilst you endeavour to prove this, try at least, to be an instance of it yourself; let innocence be your outward garment, and purity your inward; let your hands be void of evil; let not your eye glance upon the large possessions of your neighbour; nor so much as one thought wander towards his wife, or daughter; let your heart be the fountain of unbounded love and good-will, and the grave of malice and revenge, where all injuries and affronts, all resentments shall lie buried and inactive, and be as though they were not; and when you have gained this experimental evidence from yourself, of the innocence and goodness of nature, it will then be time enough to set up for a patron of her cause, and to assert her right to Heaven, upon the foot of native righteousness. Till then, at least, how innocent soever you may suppose others to be, yet, for your own sake, wish that there may be redemption for sinners; that God may visit the world, not in justice, but in mercy.
“ Innocence may challenge justice, but sin can only sue for pardon. Justice you may have from nature, but pardon you must have from grace and favour. It was an apophthegm of one of the wise men, Nosce teipsum— Learn to know thyself; and this is the first thing necessary in order to chuse your religion, rightly to know and understand your own condition. A condemned malefactor must not sue to his prince on the same terms that a faithful and deserving subject may; the one may represent his service and obedience, the other has nothing to plead but his misery; the one applies to the justice and generosity of his prince, the other to his pity and compassion. Consider then with yourself, can you stand a trial with God? Can you plead your services to him, and say, Behold thy servant; do unto him according to his works? If you can, justice will do you right; but if your heart misgives you, if your conscience cries out to you, Let us not enter into judgment with our God, for in his sight shall no man living be justified, what have you to do but to seek, if haply you may find the mercy of God ?”*
On the subject of Justification, see an Essay by Dr. Witherspoon, in the first volume of his works; Two Sermons on Justification, by Mr. Cooper, in the first volume of his Sermons; Mr. Gisborne's Sermons, vo. lume first, Sermon 2d. See also Mr. Scott's Essays.
• Sherlock's Discourses. Discourse Lu.
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.