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worship, the four living Ones subjoin their solemn Amen! This passage

needs no comment. In the scheme of justification by faith it is evident, that all the glory of saving sinners from endless guilt and misery, and of raising them to immortal happiness and virtue, centers in the Redeemer; and that, according to his own declaration, he is eminently glorified, in this manner, in those, who are given to him by the Father as his children. John xvii. 10.

4thly. It is honourable to God, that he should annex justification to virtue, and not to any thing of a different nature.

Faith is virtue. But the works of mankind, wrought before the existence of faith in the soul, are in no sense virtuous. Faith, also, is the commencement of virtue in man. It is highly honourable to God, that he should annex justification to the first appearance of virtue in the human character. In this manner, he exhibits, in the strongest degree, his readiness to forgive, accept, and save, the returning sinner; the greatness of his mercy, which, at the sight of the returning prodigal, hastens to meet, and welcome him, guilty as he has been, in all his rags, and dirt, and shame, merely because he has set his face in earnest towards his father's house; and the sublime and glorious pleasure, which he enjoys in finding a son, who was lost to all good, and in seeing him, once dead, alive again to useful and divine purposes.

5thly. It is honourable to God, that he should annex our justification to that attribute, which is the true source of virtuous obedience.'

That faith is the true source of such obedience, in all its forms and degrees, is so completely proved by St. Paul in the xi. Chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, as to admit of no debate, and to demand no further illustration. He declares directly, and universally, that without faith it is impossible to please God in any act whatever; and that by faith Enoch in his obedience pleased God. By necessary consequence all the other worthies, mentioned in that chapter, pleased him also for the same reason. On account of their faith, he teaches us, that God is not ashamed to be called their God; and has prepared them a city; an everlasting residence, a final home, in the heavenly world. Finally, he shows, that faith is the real and only source of that obedience, which is the most arduous, self-denying, honourable to the human character, and eminently pleasing to God. In a word, every thing truly glorious, which can be achieved by man, he declares, in the latter part of the chapter, to be achieved by faith alone.

St. John, also, assures us, that faith is the victory, which overcometh the world; the real power, by which, on our part, temptations are effectually resisted, snares escaped, enemies overthrown, and heaven with all its blessings finally won.

While this scheme of justification, therefore, strips man of all pretensions to merit, and gives the whole glory of his salvation to his Maker, it furnishes the most efficacious means, and the most

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absolute assurance, of his future obedience, his perpetual improve. ment in holiness, and his certain advancement towards the best character, which he will ever be capable of sustaining. The obedience, springing from faith, is voluntary, filial, and lovely. All other obedience is mercenary, and of no moral worth. It will not be denied, that a dispensation, of which these are the consequences, is highly honourable to the character of its Author.

Every person, who has attended to these observations, must clearly soe, that they illustrate, in various particulars, the usefulness of this dispensation to man: all of them plainly involving personal advantages, and those very great, to the justified; as well as peculiar glory to the Justifier. Two additional observations will contain all that is necessary to the further illustration of this part of the subject.

1st. This dispensation is profitable to mankind, as it renders their justification easy and certain.

Had our justification been made to depend on a course of obedience, it is not difficult to see, that we should have been involved in many perplexities and dangers. Repentance at late periods of life would, particularly, have been exceedingly discouraged. It will not be denied, that such repentance exists ; nor, however rare we may suppose it, that it exists, upon the whole, in many instances. Nor can any man of common humanity avoid wishing, that the number of these instances may be greatly increased. Such instances exist even on a dying bed; and, as there is good reason to believe, in considerable numbers. But how discouraging to such persons would it be, to know that their Justification was dependent on their own obedience! Is there not every reason to believe, that most, if not all persons, in these circumstances, would be discouraged from every effort, and lay aside the attempt as hopeless. What, in this case also, would become of children, dying in their infancy? and what of persons, perishing by shipwreck, the sword, and innumerable other causes, which terminate life by a sudden, unexpected dissolution ?

Further; if Justification were annexed to our obedience; how should the nature and degree of obedience be estimated ? How pure must it be? What degree of contamination might it admit, and still answer the end? With what degree of uniformity must it be continued ? With what proportion of lapses, and in what degree existing, might it be intermixed? These questions seem not to have been answered in the Scriptures. Who is able to answer them?

Again; from what principle in man shall this obedience spring ? From the mere wish to gain heaven by it? Or from a virtuous principle? From a virtuous principle; it will probably be answered. In reply, it may be asked, From what virtuous principle? I presume, it will be said, From love to God. But it ought to be remembered, that, where there is no confidence, there is no love, Vol. II.


and therefore no virtue. Consequently, there is, in this case, nothing, from which virtuous obedience can spring. How, then, can man be justified by his obedience ?

But, by annexing Justification to faith, God has removed all these difficulties and dangers. It is rendered as easy, as possible, to our attainment. For the first act of virtuous regard to God, which is exercised, or can be exercised, by a returning sinner, is faith. If, then, he can do any thing, which is praiseworthy, or virtuous, he can exercise faith. As his Justification is inseparably annexed to this exercise by the promise of God; it is as certain, as that promise is sure.

2dly. This scheme provides most effectually for the happiness of man.

Evangelical faith is an emotion of the mind, delightful in itself, and delightful in all its consequences. Faith is a well-spring of water flowing out unto everlasting life. All the streams, which proceed from it in the soul of the believer, are sweet, refreshing, and life-giving. Faith, fixing its eye on the unmerited and boundless goodness of God, sees, in the great act of Justification, faithfulness, truth, and mercy, displayed, to which it neither finds, nor wishes to find, limits. The soul, in the contemplation of what itself has been, and what it has received, becomes fitted, through this confidence, for every thing excellent, and every thing desirable. Peace, and hope, and love, and joy, rise up spontaneously under its happy influence; and flourish, unfavourable as the climate and soil are, with a verdure, and strength, unwithering and unfading. All the gratitude, which can exist in such a soul, is awakened by the strong consciousness of immense and undeserved blessings; and all the obedience prompted, which can be found in such a life. Good, of a celestial kind, and superior to every thing which this world can give, is really, and at times delightfully, enjoyed; and supporting anticipations are acquired of more perfect good beyond the grave.

This extensive and all-important subject is the principal theme of St. Paul's discourse in the seven first chapters of the Epistle to the Romans. In the 8th chapter, he derives from it a train of more sublime and interesting reflections, than can be found in any other passage

of Scripture, of equal extent. He commences them with this triumphant conclusion from what he had before said: There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. He then goes on to display, in a series of delightful consequences, the remedial influence of the Gospel upon a world, ruined by sin, and condemned by the law of God; marks the immense difference between the native character of man, as a disobedient subject of law, and his renewed character, as an immediate subject of grace; and discloses, particularly, the agency of the Spirit of truth in regenerating, quickening, purifying, and guiding the soul, in its progress



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towards heaven. The consequences of this agency he then describes with unrivalled felicity and splendour; and animates the Universe with anxious expectation to see the day, in which these blessed consequences shall be completely discovered. On the consequences themselves he expatiates in language wonderfully lofty, and with images superlatively magnificent. What shall we, then, say to these things ? he exclaims : If God be for us, who can be against us? He, that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not, with him, also, freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It

God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again ; who is even at the right hand of God; who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or perse. cution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that hath

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Such ought to be the thoughts of all, who read, and peculiarly of all, who have embraced, the Gospel. Here we find the true application of this doctrine; the proper inferences to which it conducts us. We could not have originated them; but we can imbibe and apply them. A scene is here opened without limits, and

A without end. On all the blessings, here disclosed, eternity is inscribed by the Divine hand. We are here assured an eternal residence, of immortal virtue, immortal happiness, and immortal glory; of intelligence for ever enlarging, of affections for ever rising, and of conduct for ever refining, towards perfection. Whatever the thoughts can comprehend; whatever the heart can wish; nay, abundantly more than we can ask, or think, is here by the voice of God promised to every man, who possesses the faith of the Gospel. When we remember, that all these blessings were purchased by the humiliation, life, and death, of the Son of God; can we fail to exclaim in the language of heaven: Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing ! Amen.




JAMES ii. 24.-- Ye see then how that a man is justified by works, and not by faith


This passage of Scripture, together with a part of the context,

, is directly opposed in terms, to the doctrine, which has been derived, in several preceding discourses, from St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans. Infidels, and particularly Voltaire, have seized the occasion, which they have supposed themselves to find here, to sneer against the Scriptures; and have truimphantly asserted, that St. James and St. Paul contradict each other in their doctrine, as well as their phraseology. Nor are Infidels the only persons, to whom this passage has been a stumbling-block. Divines in a multitude of instances, have found in it difficulties which they have plainly felt, and bave differed, not a little, concerning the manner in which it is to be interpreted.

Some divines, among whom was the first President Edwards, have taught, that St. James speaks of justification in the sight of men only; while St. Paul speaks of justification in the sight of God. This, I think, cannot be a just opinion. It is plain from the 21—23 verses, that St. James speaks of the same justification, which Abraham received, and in which his faith was counted into him for righteousness. It is also evident from the 14th verse, in the question, can faith save him? From this, it is plain, that St. James had his eye upon the justification, to which salvation is annexed.

Another class of divines have supposed, that St. James teaches, here, a legal or meritorious justification; and that this is the true doctrine of the Gospel concerning this subject. St. Paul, they therefore conclude, is to be so understood as to be reconcileable with St. James in this doctrine.

Others, among whom are the late Bishop Horne, and Dr. Macknight, suppose, that St. James speaks of our justification, as accomplished, in part, by those good works, which are produced by faith; and this they maintain, also, to be the doctrine of St. Paul. It is believed, that this scheme has been already proved to be unsound, but as it is true that St. James really speaks of such works, it will be necessary to consider the manner, in which he speaks of them, more particularly hereafter.

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