« ForrigeFortsæt »
rified, neither do the other prove that we were actually pardoned, or justified.
Whatever justification be, the scriptures represent it as taking place on our believing in Christ. It is not any thing that belongs to predestination, but something that intervenes between that and glorification. Whom he did PREDESTINATE, them, he also called : and whom he called, them he also JUSTIFIED : and whom he justified, them he also GLORIFIED. That which the scriptures call justification, is by faith in Jesus Christ ; and is sometimes, spoken of as future, which it could not be, if it were before our actual existence. For example: Seeing it is one God which SHALL justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith. Now it was not written for Abraham's sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it SHALL be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. The scripture FORESEEING that God would justify the heathen through faith, &c. If justification were God's decreę finally to acquit, coqdempation must be his decree finally to condemn. But every unbeliever, whether elect or non-elect, is under condemnation, as the scriptures abundantly teach : condemnation, therefore, cannot be God's decree finally to condemn. Saul of Tarsus, while an unbeliever, was under condemnation, yet God had not appoint. ed him to wrath, but to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ. The sum is, that neither condemnation nor "justification consists in the secret purpose of God, but in his will, as revealed or declared, as by a sentence in open court.
And, as justification is pot a purpose in the divine mind, neither is it a manifestation to, an impression on, or a persuasion of, the human mind. That there are manifestations to believers is admitted. God manifests himself unto them, as he does not onto the world. The things of God, which are hidden from the wise and prudent, are revealed to them. But these are not things which were previously locked up in the divine purposes, but things which are already revealed in the scriptures, and which were previously hidden from them, as they still are from unbelievers, by their own criminal blindness. God does not reveal his secret counsels to men, otherwise than by fulfilling them. To pretend
to a revelation, or manifestation, of that wbich is not contained in the scriptures, is pretending to be inspired in the same extraordinary manner as were the prophets and apostles.
If justification consist in a manifestation, impression, or persuasion, that we are justified, condemnation must be a like impression, or persuasion, that we are condemned : but this is not true. The Jews who opposed Christ were under condemnation ; yet, so far from being impressed, or persuaded, of any such thing, they had no doubt but God was their father. Believers in Jesus, on the other hand, may, at times, be impressed with strong apprehensions of divine wrath, while yet they are not exposed to it. Neither justification, therefore, nor condemnation, consists in a persuasion of the mind that we are under the one or the other. Besides, to make a thing consist in a persuasion of the truth of that thing, is à palpable absurdity. There can be no well grounded persuasion of the truth of any thing, unless it be true and evident, antecedently to our being persuaded of it.
Justification is a relative change, not in, or upon but concerning us. It relates to our standing with respect to God, the law-giver and judge of all. It is passing from death to life, in respect of the law : às when the sentence against a malefactor is not only remitted, but he is, withal, raised to honour and dignity. It is our standing acquitted by the revealed will of God declared in the gospel. As the wrath of God is REVEALED from heaven in the curses of his law; so the righteousness of God is REVEALED from faith to faith, in the declarations of the gospel. It is in this revelation of the mind of God in his word, I conceive, that the sentence both of condemnation and justification consists. He whom the scriptures bless is blessed ; and he whom they curse is cursed.
As transgressors of the holy, just, and good law of God, we are all, by nature, children of wrath. All the threatenings of God are in full force against us, and, were we to die in that condition, we must perish everlastingly. This is to be under condemnation. But condemnation, awful as it is, is not damnation. The sentence Is not executed, nor is it irrevocable :. God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN AIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.
From hence, Vol. VII.
the sioner stands in a new relation to God as a law-giver. He is no longer under the law, with respect to its condemning power, but under grace. As the manslayer, on having entered the city of refuge, was, by a special constitution of mercy, secure from the avenger of blood ; so the sinner, having fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before him, is, by the gracious constitution of the gospel, secured from the curse. All those threatenings which belonged to him heretofore, no longer stand against him ; but are reckoned, by the Judge of all, as having been executed on Jesus his substitute, who was made a curse for us. On the other hand, all the blessings and promises in the book of God belong to him, and, die when he may, eternal life is his portion. This is that state into which every belierer is translated, on his becoming a believer; and herein, I conceive, consists the blessing of justification.
There are a few points pertaining to the subject, which yet require illustration, namely, What it is in the redemption of Christ to wbieh the scriptures ascribe its efficacy? What is the concern of faith in justification ; and why it is ascribed to this grace, rather than to any other ? Finally, whether justification includes the pardon of our sins, past, present, and to come?
1. Let us inquire, What it is, in the redemption of Christ, to which the scriptures ascribe its EFFICACY? Justification is ascribed to his blood, and to his obedience. By the blood of Christ, is meant the shedding of his blood, or the laying down of his life, and by his obedience, all that conformity to the will of God which led to this great crisis. He was obedient unto death. By the death of Christ sin is said to be purged, or expiated ; and sinners, to be redeemed, reconciled, and cleansed from all sin ; and by his obedi
; ence many are said to be made righteous. This his obedience unto death was more than the means of salvation : it was the procuring cause of it. Salvation was the effect of the travail of his soul. We
may be instruments in saving one another ; but Christ was the AUTHOR of eternal salvation. The principle of substita
* The redemption of Christ may, indeed, be considered as a mean or medj. um, in respect of the first cause. Thus, in the test, it stands distinguished from grace : that is the source whence it sprang; this the medium through which it flows. The redemption of Christ is not the cause of the Father's grace ; but that in consi deration of which it is exercised.
tion, or of one standing in the place of others, being admitted by the Sovereign of the universe, he endured that which, in its effect on the divine government, was equivalent to the everlasting punishment of a world ; and did that which it was worthy of God to reward with eternal glory, not only on himself, but on all those on whose behalf he should intercede. What is there, then, in this his obedience unto death, that should render it capable of producing such important effects ? To this question the scriptures make answer, as follows : We are redeemed-with the precious blood of Christ.
- The blood of Jesus Christ his Son CLEANSETH us from all sin.. Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had BY HIMSELF expiated our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. If there be any meaning in language, the efficacy of the sufferings and work of Christ is bere ascribed to the dignity of his person ; and that dignity amounts to nothing short of his proper Deity. The scriptures often ascribe the miracles of Christ, the strength by which he was borne up in his sufferings, and his resurrection from the dead, to the power of the Father: for, being in the form of a servant, it was fit that he should be supplied, and supported, and vindicated, by Him whose servant he was; but when the value or virtue, of his interposition is spoken of, it is ascribed to the intrinsic glory of his person, as the Son of God. We inquire,
2. What is the concern of Faith in justification, and why it is ascribed to this grace, rather than to any other ? Were we to conceive of the gospel as a new " remedial law," and of faith as the first principle of obedience constituting the condition of it, or that which God graciously consented to accept as the term of justification, instead of a perfect conformity to the old law, we should be greatly beside the gospel-plan. The gospel-plan of justification excludes boasting, and that as excluding works : but justification, on this principle, excludes not works, but merely works of a certain description. There is, on this principle, a law that can give life ; and righteousness, after all, is by law. If we are justified by any doings of our own, whatever they are, we have whereof to glory. Whether we call them legal or evangelical, if they be the
consideration on which we are forgiven and accepted, we are not justified freely by grace, and boasting is not excluded.
It is said to be of faith, that it might be by grace. There must, therefore, be something in the nature of faith wbicb peculiarly corresponds with the free grace of the gospel ; something which looks out of self, and receives the free gifts of heaven as being what they are-pure, undeserved favour. We need not reduce it to a mere exercise of the intellectual faculty, in which there is nothing holy; but, whatever holiness there is in it, it is not this, but the obedience of Christ, that constitutes our justifying righteousness. Whatever other properties the magnet may possess, it is as point. ing invariably to the north that it guides the mariner; and, what
; ever other properties faith may possess, it is as receiving Christ, and bringing es into union with him, that it justifies. - In order to be interested in justification, and other blessings arising from the obedience and death of Christ, we must first be interested in Christ himself: for it is as having the Son, that we have everlasting life. The benefits of Christ's obedience unto death require to be received in the same order as that in which they are given. As God first gives him, so we must first receive him, and, with him, all things freely. Many would wish for the benefits of Christ's death, who yet have no desire after Christ. Like bim that was nearest of kip to the family of Elimelech, they would, on various accounts, be pleased with the inheritance ; but when it is understood, that, in order to possess it they must take him; with all that pertains to him, and that this would mar their present inheritance, they give it up.
Thus it is, that justification is ascribed to faith, because it is by faith that we receive Christ'; and, thus it is by faith only, and not by any other grace. Faith is peculiarly a receiving grace, which pone other is. Were we said to be justified by repentance, by love, or by any other grace, it would convey to us the idea of some. thing good in us being the consideration on which the blessing was bestowed; but justification by faith conveys no such idea. On the contrary, it leads the mind directly to Christ, in the same manner as saying of a person that he lives by begging, leads to the idea of his living on what he freely receives."