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for pardon, and gives not the least hope of mercy, in any case, or, on any condition whatever? Does the objector mean that if there had been no atonement the moral law would have afforded no provision for pardon on any condition whatever, that is, would not
, have granted a pardon to those that should love God, and repent of their sins? Whether there had been any atonement or not, there is as much evidence that God would pardon the sinner on the condition of love and repentance from the written moral law, as from any other part of the Holy Scriptures.
I grant that had there been no atonement, there would have been no provision in the moral Law for pardon, for there would have been no possible way
for any sinner to be brought to repentance. But now Christ has come into the world and made an atonement for sin, the moral Law makes provision for pardon, and gives hope of mercy on certain conditions. The moral law does not explicitly and unconditionally condemn any transgressor to everlasting misery, for the moral Law makes our salvation certain, on the condition that we love God. To say that the moral LAW affords no provision for pardon, but unconditionally condemns every transgressor to everlasting misery exclusive of the idea of atonement, is not consist.ent; because had there been no atonement there would have been “no written moral Law;" and the language of God to men would not have been, Showing mercy to thousands of them that love him. Hence, the moral LAW stands on the very foundation of the atonement; and the moral Law could not have been revealed without the reality of atonement. It was in consequence of the atonement, or the purpose of God to save men through Christ, that the Lord came down on Mount Sinai, and delivered the moral Law to Moses, written on tables of stone by the finger of God. And not only the moral Law, but the rites and ceremonies of the LAW were designed to exhibit Jesus Christ.
If the moral law make no provision for pardon on any condition whatever, then the penitent could no more be pardoned than the impenitent; but this is an inconsistent supposition: for, if God could give repentance without an atonement, he could also give pardon without atonement. If God could consistently exer. cise one act of grace in qualifying a sinner for heaven, for the same reason he could exercise another act of grace and admit him there. Salvation, therefore, and all the conditions and qualifications of salvation, originate in the grace and mercy of God.
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF SAINTS DISTINGUISHEW
FROM THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF SINNERS.
Isalah lxiv, 6. But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our
righteousnesses are as filthy rags; we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities like the wind have taken us dray.
VII. INFERENCE. WE learn from what we have heard the sense of the above text.
In his summary explanation of this chapter, Dr. Lowth observes thus; “The Prophet in this chapter pursues the same subject which he had introduced in the latter part of the preceding. The whole is highly pathetic and tender. It may be considered as a form of prayer and humiliation, intended for the Jews, in order to their conversion. Knowing the state and situation of the Jews, the Prophet implores the favour of God on their behalf, confessing their sins. He begins the chapter thus; “O that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence.” In the fourth verse he expresses what wonderful things God had prepared for those who trust in him: translated by the Doctor thus; "For never have men heard, nor perceived by the ear; nor hath eye seen a God beside thee, who doeth such things for those that trust in him. Thou meetest with joy, those who work righteousness.” But God was wroth with the nation, for they had sinned. And in the words before us for exposition the Prophet confesses their sins. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;" or, in the translation of the Doctor, "And like a rejected garment are all our righteous deeds."
The Prophet goes on with his confession and pray. er: “And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hola of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us because of our iniquities. But now, O Lord, thou art our Father, we are the clay, and thou our Potter;--be not wroth very sore, O Lord, neither remember iniquity forever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.” Hence, the Prophet founded his prayer for a blessing on this, that the people for whom he prayed were the people of God." They were indeed the professed people of God, although their righteous deeds were like a rejected garment. Truly they were the only visible church then in the world. Real saints constitute the true church: and some such were found in that nation. The Jews, as a nation, were as an unclean thing, and all their righteousnesses were as filthy rags. That this was the character of that people as a nation, is evident from what is said in the first chapter of this prophecy: “Hear, O heavens; and give ear, 0 earth; for the Lord hath spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my peo. ple do not consider. Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick and the whole heart faint. And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.” Therefore, "Except the Lord had left unto us a very sma! remnant, we should have been as Sodum, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” So then, although the nation in general were exceedingly corļupt and wicked, yet among them, there was a small remnant, who were true saints, the real people of God “But we are all,” says the Prophet, “as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as fiithy rags. Does he mean that the righteousness of saints, as well as of sinners, is as filthy rags? Certa.nly not. I believe however, that it is the sentiment of some divines, that the righteousness of saints, as well as of sinners, is as filthy rags. But if what we have heard be true, the righteousness of the saint is very far from being as filthy rags. And that the righteousness of saints, the children of God, ought not to be compared with filthy rags, will
appear more fully from the following considerations:
1. The righteousness of saints is of God.
It is said of sinners, that they go about to establish their own righteousness.” They are “ignorant of God's righteousness,” that is, the righteousness which God gives. The righteousness wbich sioners make themselves, represented in the Scriptures by weaving the spider's web, is, indeed, as filthy rags, or "like a rejected garment.” But such a right ousness is evidently very different from the righteousness which God gives. The good man's righteousness is of God, it is therefore like God. It is the same as the moral image of God in which man was at first created. It is the new birth. A man's being a subject of righteousness supposes that be has "put off the old man, and put on the new, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
Saint Peter speaks of some as being partakers of divine nature. And the children of God are in a measure partakers of the divine nature, as truly, as if they were subjects of an emanation of moral purity from God himself. This being the case, their righteousness cannot be an unclean thing, or as filthy rags. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one." With equal propriety may it be said, that no one can bring an unclean thing out of a clean. From the same fountain cannot proceed sweet water and bitter. Surely no unclean thing can come from God. The righteousness of saints therefore must be clean.