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capital crime, would be as surely put to death, as if he had committed all that ever were prohibited. In fact, the law requires perfect obedience. Its language is,—" Do this, and thou shalt live; transgress it, and thou shalt die." The law makes no distinction between venial and mortal sins. This is another of the vain imaginations of popery. It knows nothing of repentance of past errors, or of sincere obedience for the time to come. It is inflexible in its demands, and inexorable in its denunciations. It is evident, therefore, that to expect justification by the law, is to expect an impossibility. And hence you see the ground of the apostle's argument in the text:—" We who are Jews by nature,"—we who have been favoured with the most perfect dispensation of the law that God ever gave to man,—we know that a man is not justified by the works of the law, either ceremonial or moral; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Hence, also, you see why the law is called "the ministration of death," and "the strength of sin." It is "the ministration of death," because it delivers over to death, temporal and eternal, every transgressor. It is "the strength of sin," because it gives sin its power to condemn to death and misery all who have sinned; that is, all mankind. Such is the nature and character of the moral law, the eternal and unchangeable rule and standard of good and evil, for the breach of which all are accountable to God. "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty 'before God." Men may cavil against the sentence of condemnation by the law. They may ask, with some appearance of argument, Shall God condemn and consign men to eternal misery, for breaches of the law, committed in time, by those who are born in sin and shapen in iniquity? "But who art thou, O man, that repliest against God?" Who is the best judge of the evil and demerit of sin?—God or man? Would the Almighty condemn men to everlasting woe, if their sin did not merit such a punishment? "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" There are many things in the scripture, which are objects of faith, and not of reasoning? Is the scripture the word of God? Yes; as surely as you exist, or as that God himself exists. And if so, "Thus saith the Lord," must silence all our objections, and it becomes us to be content to believe what we cannot comprehend. The scripture of God's truth will not bend to the metaphysical subtlety of human reasoning. Do you think that the God of mercy would have denounced the tremendous curses contained in the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth chapters of Deuteronomy, and in other passages of scripture, unless sin had merited them ?" God is love"—but would ,he who bears this name have pronounced the sentence of eternal condemnation against sinners, unless they had been enemies to his character, his throne, and his government ?—unless their sin had deserved this condemnation? "Do not err, my beloved brethren." Believe the declarations of the God of truth.
I remark once more under this head;
4. The law cannot justify, hecause God has appointed another method of justification.
St. Paul, in this same epistle, says, "That no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith." The apostle here cites a passage from the prophecy of Habakkuk, which shews that those who are accounted righteous before God, shall be delivered from the condemnation of the law, and obtain eternal life by or through faith in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ: or according to the more exact translation of these words, "The just by faith, shall live." That is those who are justified or accounted righteous through faith in the Saviour, shall be freed from the curse, and be crowned with everlasting life. As the righteousness of faith does not deliver us from temporal death, it is evident that the life which the just will live by faith, or which the just by faith will live, must imply deliverance from the eternal condemnation of the law, and the possession of everlasting life. In fact, this life by faith, includes all the blessings of justification, whatever they are. But the apostles argument goes to shew that God would never appoint more than one way of justification; and therefore as he establishes from the scripture the fact that "the just shall live by faith," he draws the conclusion that "no man is justified by the law in the sight of God." If man could have been justified by the law, or in any other way than that which the lawgiver has appointed, can it be imagined that Christ would
have left his glory and have taken on him the nature of man, in order to be made a sacrifice for sin through sufferings and death? Would he have been made a curse for us, if the curse could have been removed by any other means? What does redemption through the blood of the cross imply? What does the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of divine grace, imply? It is clearly implied by each of these phrases that by nature we are lost and ruined sinners, that we are enemies to God and rebels against his authority; that without Christ we are shut up in a state of hopeless condemnation.
I have thus endeavoured to confirm the apostle's assertion, that none can be justified by the law: first, because it denounces nil men as sinners; secondly, because it has shut up all in a state of condemnation; thirdly, because such is its nature and character, viewed in connexion with the present condition of man, as to render justification by it an impossibility; and fourthly, because God has appointed another method for man's justification. I now proceed to the third head proposed for our consideration, namely:
III. To illustrate the position that justification is to be obtained only by faith in Jesus Christ.
You have seen, my brethren, what justification is. Those whom God justifies he forgives; he views them as righteous; he receives them into his love and favour, and gives them a right and title to eternal life. The ground on which God confers the blessing, is the obedience and death of Jesus Christ; and the means or instrument by which the sinner receives it, is faith in Christ. There is no other way in which justification is conferred by God or received by man. Of course I speak not here of infants or such as are physically incapable of exercising faith. This is another dispensation—a necessary exception to a general rule. But I may confidently say of you, and of all to whom the gospel comes, that none are justified and saved who do not believe; and that all who believe are justified and saved. Hence we see the vast importance of faith. Faith, as being connected with our salvation, is in a sense, as important to us as Christ himself. For what is ascribed to Christ meritoriously, is ascribed to faith instrumentally. It is necessary therefore that we should know what this faith is; and here I shall make two remarks:
1. First, a justifying faith implies a firm belief of that method of salvation by Christ which the gospel reveals.
Faith in its general acceptation, is belief founded upon the testimony of another. A divine faith is belief founded upon the testimony of God as revealed in his word; and consequently faith in Christ is believing the testimony of God concerning Christ. Hence, faith is said to be a "receiving of the witness of God, which he hath testified of his son;" and unbelief, on the other hand, is "not receiving the record which God gave of his Son." Now, what is the substance of this record, or testimony? Let the apostle John answer this question. "This is the record that God hath given unto us, eternal life, and this life is in his Son." God in the