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the water:—how abundantly do the beams of the sun flood the face of the earth, with their golden splendors—how sufficient for the object for which they are sent:—how abundantly does the atmosphere surround the globe, giving breath to all the living —how abundantly do the waters fill the seas, and roll in eternal fulness on their pathless channels. Such is the generosity, the profusion, of the divine nature. God knows nothing of parsimony. He gives as one that can well afford; he gives liberally. Nothing but sin can dry up, or diminish, the streams of his bounty. The sinless angels, and the redeemed in glory, expatiate in an ocean of abundance. They know that their king is infinitely rich and generous;–they therefore expect much, and they receive it. Sin cuts man off from this expectation, and it is the hardest thing in the world to restore it unto him. No point does God reason with him more earnestly —He tells him that the gospel has removed all obstacles to his dealing again with him on generous terms;–that if he will now return to him, his heart and hand shall be again opened, and the abundance of paradise shall again be given ;-he says to him, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near ; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The influence of the Spirit, therefore, given as the price of Christ's death to regenerate the soul, is given abundantly for this end —it is God's own gift, and he gives like a God. And to all who have received any measure of renewing grace, and would receive more, he says, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” The influences of the Spirit will be shed down more and more abundantly, as the faith of God’s people increases, until the whole earth shall be filled with his glory as the waters fill the sea. We have thus shown that the Holy Ghost is the author of regeneration, and that his agency upon the soul is gracious, rational, supernatural, direct, special, unresisted, and abundant. In the view we have taken, it is the most beautiful and benign of all the works of God;—it exhibits a reach of wisdom and love, which leaves all his doings in the natural creation far behind. When the earth and heavens rose from chaos into order, and put on their robes of light, it was befitting that the morning stars should sing together, and the sons of God shout for joy;-but when an immortal soul rises from the deeper chaos of sin into the image of God, and puts on the shining robes of his Saviour, it is befitting that joy in the presence of the angels of God should strike up a yet louder anthem of praise. Accordingly God says of the kingdom of the redeemed, “Behold, I
create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” Thus, in the judgment of God himself, does the work of regeneration eclipse the glories of his first creation.
Wonderful indeed it was, when this huge and sightless mass was moved upon by the almighty energies of the Spirit; when its desolate chambers of night were unlocked, and became the joyful abodes of light, life, and beauty;-but more wonderful is it, when the human soul, from the ruins of sin, is re-wrought, enlightened, adorned, to be a blissful and everlasting temple of the Holy Ghost. The glories of the first creation will hereafter fade ;-but the glories of the second, never. The first creation will wax old, like a garment; as a vesture will God change it, and it shall be changed;—but the second creation will never wax old, never be changed. High above the stars, on a throne of light, in God’s own blissful presence, where change and disaster never come, will the regenerate soul forever sit, looking serenely down upon the ashes of the universe, reflecting the beauties of the Spirit's noblest work, and shouting the praises of Him who hath said, “HE THAT BELIEVETH IN ME, SHALL NEveR DIE.”
CHAPTER XI. JUSTIFICATION.
NEXT in order after regeneration, comes the doctrine of justification. Christians are not only renewed; they are justified. Addressing the members of the Corinthian church, St. Paul says, “Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” They were not sinless ; for the apostle had just administered a rebuke to them, and had told them, “There is utterly a fault among you.” Yet they were in a justified state. In another place, the same apostle says, “Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”f Justification is then something interposing, in this golden chain of salvation, between effectual calling, or regeneration, and glorification.
It is the object of this chapter to illustrate its nature, its ground, and its condition.
# 1 Cor. vi. 11, f Rom. viii. 30.
1. Its NATURE. The word justify is borrowed from civil courts. It denotes the decision of a judge, whose prerogative it is to make an authoritative declaration respecting subjects of law. In its primary sense, it denotes the innocence of its subject, as well as his acquittal. But Christians sustain to the divine government the relation not only of accountable beings, but of sinners. What then can be meant by their being justified ? How can God declare sinners to be just 2 I answer:—Justification, in a theological sense, is either legal or evangelical ;-legal, as applied to sinless beings, like the holy angels; evangelical, as applied to those whose righteousness is of Christ. Men are justified at human tribunals, because they are proved innocent; but justification by the gospel supposes no such thing. On the contrary, it is written, “What things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped.” Although Christians are justified by God, they do not justify themselves; which they would do, and ought to do, if they were innocent. “If I should justify myself,” said the most persect man that ever lived— God himself being judge—“my own lips would condemn me; if I should say I am righteous, that also would prove me perverse.”f Evangelical justification is an act of God's free grace, in which he pardons the sins of the regenerate, and accepts them as righteous, in and through the righteousness of Christ. This is the strictly scriptural
* Rom. iii. 19. t Job ix. 20.