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relation to Christ. But one is exceedingly puzzled to find the place in the Bible, where this is taught. Indeed they do not profess to deduce this sentiment so much from the Bible, as from the church ; and that, unfortunately for the truth’s sake, after the church had become corrupted. There are more yet, who believe that we are justified partly by faith in Christ, and partly by good works. They suppose that the righteousness of Christ, apprehended by faith, does a part of what needs to be done for our salvation, leaving our own good works to make up the deficiency. On this principle the redeemed saint in heaven must divide the praise of his salvation between Christ and himself, dealing out the larger portion to the one or to the other, according as his vanity shall rise or fall. Having sung the hymn of praise to the Lamb, who hath redeemed us to God by his blood, he must then turn and sing another, which John did not hear, to his own good works. It was this notion of dividing with Christ, in the matter of our justification, that so bewitched the Galatians, as to call forth the most stirring energies of the inspired pen. “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith ?”
* Gal. iii. 1.
In lofty eminence above all these schemes, whether entire or mixed, stands the true scriptural doctrine, that Christians are justified alone by faith in Christ. Faith only is that which places them in a justified state. It is that with which they are wholly justified; and in the absence of which, wholly condemned. This can be said of nothing else. A man may be baptized; he may do penance; practice sanctimonious ablutions, repeat paternosters, and macerate with fastings; he may perform the deeds of law, and practice the social virtues, with great exactness; he may be a distinguished philanthropist; he may even give all his goods to feed the poor and his body to be burned,—and yet, until he takes himself completely off from all these, and all his other doings, as a ground of dependance, and places himself solely on the righteousness of God in Christ, he is in an unjustified state. God is dissatisfied ; the penalty of the law lies against him; Christ is grieved, the cross offended ; and all heaven looks mournfully upon him, as a thief and a robber, who would climb up some other way.” But no sooner does he cease from all these false dependences, and place himself by faith on the atonement of Christ alone, than God is satisfied ; the penalty of the law removed ; Christ well pleased, the cross honored; and all heaven rejoices over him as a redeemed and loyal heir of glory.
Let us now educe a few samples of Scripture, in proof of this doctrine of justification by faith. “We
are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the sorbearance of God, to declare I say at this time his righteousness, that he might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then It is excluded. By what law Of works? Nay, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.” “Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man 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. Beware, therefore, lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the prophets:–Behold ye despisers, and wonder, and perish.”f—A caution which we do well to consider' The apostle declares, experimentally, this doctrine of justification by faith, the foundation of peace, and of triumphant, glorious joy. “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ ; by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” “Being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”f Having set forth the righteousness of God in Christ as the only soundation of hope, and declared that even an angel from heaven is not to be received, if he preach any other doctrine, the apostle says, “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.” And to show the beautiful operation of this law of faith in Christ, the apostle says, “I am crucified with Christ ; nevertheless, I live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”f As much as to say, all who week to be justified in any other way than by faith in Christ, do frustrate the grace of God; for them Christ has died in vain. They do virtually set him at naught. Referring to Abraham, in the case of the atoning lamb which typified the Lamb of God, the apostle says, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye, therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse;—for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident; for the just shall live by faith.”—“If there had been a law given, which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”—“The law was our schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” To deduce more Scriptures in proof of our doctrine, were superfluous. He who is not convinced by these, disclaims all confidence in this source of evidence. Let us now consider the superiority of this over every other way of justification. 1. Faith in Christ is the generic grace. It is the great central virtue. Confidence in God is the almighty law of heaven. It is the gravitating power, which binds together the celestial hierarchies, as they revolve in their orbits around the everlasting throne. We are sometimes told that there is no faith in heaven, for faith is lost in sight. But no such doctrine is taught in the Bible. On the contrary, faith is perfected in heaven;–and it is the great end of God, in our probation, to recover in us this principle, which was lost by the fall, that we may be prepared for heaven. It was from defect of faith, that Lucifer with his train
* Rom. v. 15. f Acts xiii. 40, 41. f Rom. v. 1, 2, 9.