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20, 21, 22, &c. where the apoftle speaks more fullyS ERM.. and exprefly of the way of our juftification by the faith of JESUS CHRIST; that is, by the belief of the gospel. He afferts at the 20th verfe," that by the deeds of "the law there shall no flesh be justified in the fight "of GOD." To this way of juftification" by the "deeds of the law," he oppofeth "the righteouf"nefs of God by the faith of JESUS CHRIST, to "all and upon all them that believe," which is the gofpel way of juftification, ver. 21, 22. "But "now the righteoufnefs of GOD without the law is manifefted, being witneffed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God, which is by the faith of JESUS CHRIST, unto all, and upon all them that believe." "The righteousness "of GOD without the law is manifefted:" that is, the way which God hath taken to juftify finners, and declare them righteous "without the deeds of the “law,” that is, without obferving the law of Mofes, "is manifefted," that is, is clearly revealed in the gofpel, (which is the fame with what the apostle had faid before, that "the righteoufnefs of God is "revealed in the gofpel) being witneffed by the law " and the prophets," that is, the righteousness of GOD, or the juftification of finners by JESUS CHRIST, is clearly revealed in the gospel, being alfo in a more obscure manner attefted or foretold in the old testament, which he calls "the law and "the prophets;" and this fully explains that difficult phrafe of the righteoufnefs of GOD being re"vealed by the gofpel from faith to faith;" that is, by a gradual revelation, being more obfcurely foretold in the old teftament, and clearly difcovered in the new; fo that these two paffages are equivaA 3 lent;
SER M. lent;" in the gospel, the righteousness of GOD is "revealed from faith to faith ;" and "the righte"oufnefs of GOD without the works of the law is
manifefted, being witneffed by the law and the "prophets." There is the first and more imperfect revelation of it, but the clear revelation of it is in the gofpel; this the apostle calls " a revelation from faith "to faith," that is from a more imperfect and obfcure, to a more exprefs and clear discovery and belief of it. And then the citation which follows is very pertinent, "as it is written, the juft fhall live by faith;" for this citation out of the old teftament plainly fhews, that the way of juftification by faith was there mentioned; or, as our apostle expreffeth it," was witneffed by the "law and the prophets ;" and confequently that this was a gradual discovery, which he calls "a revelation "from faith to faith." The juft fhall live by faith;" that is, good men fhall be faved by their faith, shall be juftified and esteemed righteous in the fight of GOD, and finally faved by their faith. And fo the apostle in the vth chap. of this epiftle, ver. 18. calls our juftification by the faith of the gofpel, "the "juftification of life," in oppofition to condemnation and death, which very well explains that saying of the prophet, "the juft fhall live by faith." I have been the longer upon this, that I might give fome light to a very difficult and obfcure text.
Secondly, the other inftance whereby the apoftle
of GoD is revealed from heaven, against all
"ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who holds ERM. "the truth in unrighteoufnefs; because that which B6 may be known of GOD is manifested in them, for "GOD hath fhewn it unto them." The firft, viz. the grace of God in our justification and the remiffion of fins paft, is a moft proper and powerful argument to encourage us to obedience for the future; nothing being more likely to reclaim men to their duty, than the affurance of indemnity for paft crimes; and the other is one of the most effectual confiderations in the world to deter men from fin, that "the "wrath of Gon is revealed from heaven againft all "ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, &c."
From which words I fhall obferve these fix things.
First, the infinite danger that a wicked and finful course doth plainly expofe men to. "The wrath of "GOD is here faid to be revealed against the impiety "and unrighteousness of men."
Secondly, the clear and undoubted revelation which the gospel hath made of this danger. "The wrath "of God" against the fins of men, is faid to be "revealed from heaven."
Thirdly, that every wicked and vicious practice doth expofe men to this great danger. "The wrath "of God" is faid to be "revealed against all un"godlinefs, and unrighteousness of men."
Fourthly, that it is a very great aggravation of fin, for men to offend against the light of their own minds. The apoftle here aggravates the impiety and wickednefs of the heathen world, that they did not live up to the knowledge which they had of God, but contradicted it in their lives, which he calls " holding "the truth in unrighteousness."
SERM. Fifthly, the natural knowledge which men have off CXI. GOD, if they live wickedly, is a clear evidence of their "holding the truth in unrighteousness." The apoftle therefore chargeth them with "holding the truth "in unrighteoufnefs," because" that which may "he known of God is manifefted in them, GOD hav"ing fhewed it to them."
Sixthly, and lastly, that the clear revelation of the wrath of God in the gofpel, against the impiety and wickedness of men, renders it a very powerful and likely means for the recovery and falvation of men. For the apostle proves "the gospel of CHRIST to be the *6 power of GoD to falvation," because therein the "wrath of GoD is revealed from heaven against all un"godliness and unrighteoufnefs of men, who hold the "truth in unrighteoufnefs;" that is, against all impeni-. tent finners.
I fhall at the prefent, by God's affiftance, speak to the three firft of thefe particulars.
Firft, the infinite danger that a wicked and finful courfe doth plainly expofe men to. If there be a GOD that made the world, and governs it, and takes care of mankind, and hath given them laws and rules to live by, he cannot but be greatly displeased at the violation and tranfgreffion of them; and certainly the displeasure of GoD is the most dreadful thing in the world, and the effects of it the most infupportable. The greatest fear is from the greatest danger, and the greatest danger is from the greatest power offended and enraged; and this is a confideration exceeding full of terror, that by a finful course we expose ourselves to the utmoft difpleasure of the great and terrible GOD; for "who knows the
power of his wrath?" and "who may stand before him when once he is angry? according to
thy fear, fo is thy wrath" (faith the Pfalmift.) S ERM. There is no paffion in the mind of man that is more boundless and infinite than our fear; it is apt to make wild and frightful representations of evils, and to imagine them many times greater than really they are; but in this case our imagination must fall short of the truth and terror of the thing; for the wrath of God doth far exceed the utmost jealousy and fufpicion of the most fearful and guilty confcience; and the greatest finner under his greatest anguish and defpair, cannot apprehend or fear it more than there is reafon for; "according to thy fear, fo is thy wrath."
If it were only the wrath and displeasure of men that the finner were expofed to, there might be reafon enough for fear, because they have many times power enough to crush an offender, and cruelty enough to fret every vein of his body, and to torment him in every part: but the wrath and vengeance of men bears no comparifon with the wrath of GOD. Their paffions are many times ftrong and blustering; but their arm is but short, and their power small, "they have not an arm like Gop, nor "can they thunder with a voice like him." They may defign confiderable harm and mifchief to us; but it is not always in the power of their hand to wreak their malice upon us, and to execute all the mifchief which their enraged minds may prompt them to; the very utmost they can defign, is to torment our bodies, and to take away our lives, and when they have defigned this, they may die first, and “return to their duft, and then their thoughts perish "with them," and all their malicious defigns are at an end; they are always under the power and go