Billeder på siden

seeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed." This blessing then is justification through faith. Of this justification the Apostle speaks to the Romans in language as extensive as that in which the covenant of grace was expressed to Abraham. His words are as follows; "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Again to the Romans, the Apostle speaking of Christ, says; "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." The same author in a discourse at Antioch said; "And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again." The hearer is requested to notice, that according to the passages quoted, the promise to Abraham is called the gospel. This gospel was preached by God himself, and no doubt was preached truly, and as Abraham believed, and as we ought to believe at this day. We also see that the thing promised, which the Apostle calls "the inheritance," is justification through faith, the word faith meaning covenant; and moreover, that all that have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, are thus "justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Should the trite objection, that this doctrine justifies men in sin, be moved in this case, we reply in the words of divine truth, which never speaks of justifying men in sin, but "from, all things, from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses." St. Peter applies the blessing which God promised, in his covenant, to Abraham, as follows; "Unto you first, God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." One important object which we have in view, is to show the nature of the gospel salvation, which is salvation from sin and all its evils.

The hearer is now requested to consider the terms

or conditions of the promises, the covenant made with the fathers, which embraces the salvation of all the nations, all the families, and all the kindreds of the earth in Jesus Christ. If these promises were made on any conditions of obedience on the part of the heirs of this inheritance, then unless these conditions are fulfilled we have no right to the promises? But blessed, forever blessed be the name of the God of Abraham, this covenant rests on no conditions of man's obedience. There is not a word in the promises made to the fathers, that intimates any condition on the part of those who were to be blessed. Our heavenly Father here manifests his own unchangeable, uninfluenced, unconditional good will and gracious purpose concerning all the sons and daughters of Adam. "God, willing more abundantly, to show unto the heirs of promise, the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; for when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swear by himself." And the design of this oath was, "that we might have strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us."

Corresponding with the unconditionality of the "covenant of promise," we may notice a passage or two from the prophet Isaiah and St. Paul. The evangelical prophet uses language in his 26th Chapter which corresponds in three important points with the language of the divine promises. 1st. It is universal 2d. It contains the testimony of life; and 3d. The language is positive, not conditional. The passage reads as follows; "And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, of wines on the lees; of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth; for the Lord hath spoken it." In his 9th Chapter, speaking of the Messiah, he says, " For unto

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

That the salvation of the gospel is not according to the works of men, St. Paul's testimony to Timothy fully shows; "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began; but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." To Titus he says; "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us." On the same subject, to the Ephesians he says; "Not of works, lest any man should boast." The passage just quoted from the the epistle to Timothy is remarkable for its clearness on our subject: "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works.". It this salvation and calling were not according to the works, of those who were saved, then it must be according to something else. And this something must form a principle on which God could act with perfect consistency, with holiness, justice and truth. Apostle says; "But according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, to save men, not according to their works. To this argument the objector will reply, that it is evident according to scripture and according to reason and the fitness of things, that men should be The dealt with according to their merit and demerit. objector will contend, that this is according to the law given to Israel by Moses, and is likewise according to the law given to the Gentiles, written in their


us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace. Of the increase of his goverment and peace there shall be no end." No comments are necessary to show, that the language quoted from the prophet corresponds with that in which the "covenant of promise" is recorded.

heart. To all this we give our full and cordial consent, and proceed to show that this is no real objection against the salvation for which we have contended, by illustrating the fact stated in our text, that the law is not against the promises of God.

This the Apostle has done in our context, in a very able and concise manner. His argument is the following, which has been already quoted on another subject; "And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect."

Never was there an argument more clear and conclusive. In order that the law have might any power to control the covenant of promise it should have existed prior to, or at least simultaneous with it; and then there must have been conditions in the covenant of promise of which the law should have power to take cognizance. If the objector further contend, that the moral nature of the law did exist at the time and even before the promise was made to Abraham, we grant the fact, and say: if it were consistent with the moral nature of the law, for God to make such promises, it certainly cannot be contrary to it, for him to fulfil them. It was the same God who gave the law to man, that made the promises to the father of the faithful and nothing can be more unreasonable than to suppose, that he either made a law against his own promises, or promises against his own law.

The true design of the law, in relation to the gospel which was preached unto Abraham, is represented by a well chosen metaphor in the chapter where our text. is found, "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." As the appointment of a schoolmaster is certainly for the benefit of the pupils; to instruct and discipline them for advancement in duties and in enjoyments, so the law was designed to instruct and discipline mankind for the sublime duties and enjoyments of the religion of Jesus Christ. While his

thildren are at school, or even before they are of age to profit by such an institution, the kind affectionate father may will to his children independent fortunes. These minors may, notwithstanding they are heirs to ⚫ this testament of their fathers's, be kept at school, be instructed and disciplined by a faithful master until the time appointed of the father for them to come into possession of their inheritance, and to be free from the government of the school. In this simile it is easy to see, that the children were dealt with according to their merit and demerit; the schoolmaster could do his whole duty to his pupils without concerning himself about their father's will. His authority did not extend to take cognizance of that instrument of grace, nor did that testament which made these children vastly rich infringe in the least on the authority of the schoolmaster. There is no power in the will to screen the disobedient scholar from the faithful hand of righteous discipline. These two dispensations harmonise in doing good to the same persons, in their respective ways. In relation to our subject, the Apostle says in connexion with our text; "Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors, until the time appointed of the Father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world."


But the objector urges that it is written; "cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them; and "the soul that sinneth, it shall die." Let this all be granted; and let it stand without attempting to weaken it in the least; but let us remember with gratitude and joy of heart, that "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." And also, that those who were dead in trespasses and in sins, hath God quickened together with Christ. It is true, 'the wages of sin is death," but it is also true that the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Will the objector now say, that the curse of the law

« ForrigeFortsæt »