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tion of the ungodly. “Abraham believed God, and it
was counted unto him for righteousness. . Now to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not,” that is, worketh not with a view to merit a reward; “ but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly,” or sinful men, “ his
faith is counted for righteousness.” It is reckoned to
him as an equivalent for a perfect righteousness; because it embraces Jesus Christ, and relies on his merits. Thus it appears, that by the ungodly is meant, not the impenitent, nor the unbelieving. For repentance and faith in Christ are the necessary conditions of salvation. “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” and “He that believeth not shall be damned.” Many and various have been the definitions of gospel justification. The assembly of divines say, that “justifica
tion is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth
all our sins, and acceptethus as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.” By faith, Jesus Christ is received; and by faith, all his doctrines and testimonies are embraced. But the very act of justification is an
acquittance from just condemnation, and from deserved
punishment; and a restoration to the everlasting love and favor of God, only through faith in Jesus Christ. “Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.” He receives the forgiveness of his sins, and an inheritance among all them that are sanctified. He becomes an heir of 6 od, and a joint heir with Christ, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. “Being justified by his grace, we are made heirs, according to the hope of eternal life.” But this special act of divine grace is limited to believers only. “Be it known unto you, therefore, Men and brethren, that through this man, Jesus Christ, is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe, are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses,” -
In the third chapter to the Romans, the Apostle having exhibited, in glowing colors, the total sinfulness, and utter condemnation of all mankind, proceeds to the most clear, and illustrious statement of the doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus Christ. “Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight. For by the law is the knowledge of sin–For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption #. is in Christ Jesus; whom God . set forth for a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness, for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God: To declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.” To procure the pardon and final salvation of sinners, in a way that will do honor to the inflexible justice of God, is the great thing necessary to gospel justification. And this way of pardon and salvation is clearly stated in the passage of scripture before us. It is through faith in the blood of Christ, to declare and vindicate the justice of God, that remission of sins, is preached in his name.
It appears, on the whole, that the doctrine of justifi. cation implies several things. It is a special act of divine grace. Nothing at all is done by sinnners, to merit the forgiveness of their sins, and the everlasting favor of God. They are not only unprofitable servants, but infinitely injurious and ill deserving. Their justification, therefore, is an act of infinite grace to the most vile, the most unworthy, and hell deserving.
Justification is also through the blood and death of Jesus Christ. “Being justified by his blood, we are saved from wrath through him.” “Without shedding of blood, there is no remission.” “ The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” “ Christ died for the ungodly; died the just for the unjust; died for our sins, according to the scriptures.” “ Christ our passover was sacrificed for us,” “He was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification.” Had he not risen
from the dead, how could he vindicate his cause P. If
like the humble publican, he is justified by Christ. He is adopted into the family of God, and commences a brotherhood with the Saviour, whose image he bears. By faith, he becomes an heir of heaven. But in this life, he must be deeply humbled before God. Like his Lord and master, he must humble himself to be exalted ; and suffer with him, to reign with him. He must deny himself, take up his cross and follow him.
Such is the humiliating doctrine of justification by
faith. In the scriptures, it is stated as a contrast to justification by the works of the law: , “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law;” for “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” “Thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear.”
1. Faith being a o exercise of heart, peculiarly acceptable to God, and being the condition of pardon and justification, some may still enquire, after all that has been said on the subject, “What is the difference between justification by faith, and justification by works?” To cast further light on this subject, we answer; Justification by works wholly excludes the Mediator from any part of the great work of salvation. And of course, it is taking the ground of infidelity; and rejecting the whole §. But justification by faith, is through an infinite Mediator, and an infinite atonement, by his most precious blood. This plan secures the honor of the divine law; but the plan of salvation by works, makes no provision for the honor of a broken so. nor for the pardon of the guilty. “By the law is the knowledge of sin;” but not of the forgiveness of sin: for the law knows nothing of divine mercy. Obey perfectly, and live; disobey in one point, and die. This is the tenor of the law. For “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all
things, which are written in the book of the law, to do
them.”. Surely, the difference between justification by
two plans cannot be blended together. Repentance and
faith in Christ, and evangelical obedience, are real vir-